Carvajal: From Soldiers to Diplomats, from Family-run to Professionally-Managed

Published 29 Mar 2017
Reference 6284
Region South America
Length 23 page(s)
Language English

Carvajal traces the 110-year history of one of Colombian’s oldest family-owned firms from a small print shop to one of the largest paper product conglomerates in Latin America. Founded in 1904 by Manuel Carvajal, a Colombian educator and erstwhile politician, the company has contributed to Colombia’s economic and intellectual development ever since. By the 1950s Carvajal was the leading printer and publishing house in Latin America. Although the company benefitted from state protection, a tradition of technical innovation was established – in 1958 it printed the first telephone directory for Bogotá on two-sheet offset press – and thereafter expanded into neighboring countries, diversifying into inter-linked activities. Throughout the 20th century the firm was led by descendants of the founder. In the 21st century, a non-family CEO was hired for the first time.

Teaching objectives

This strategy-making exercise for a family-run company that has reached a turning point in its 110-year-old history requires students to think about how ‘family assets’ can contribute to the firm during the 21st century. While family firms in Colombia are often associated with conflict and failure, here the challenge is to examine the role of professional management as a force for change. Students also need to consider why many Carvajal next gens have positioned themselves as potential leaders, with skills honed at top international business schools and a deep understanding of the family enterprise. Beyond the leadership issue, discussion can encompass the vision of the Carvajal family as the company expands beyond Latin America. Students of family business in the region will find many lessons to be learned from this exceptional firm and family, and their commitment to its survival.

  • Carvajal
  • Carvajal Empaques
  • Colombian Family Business
  • Grupo Norma
  • Publicar
  • Carpack
  • Assenda
  • Propal
  • Bernardo Quintero Balcázar
  • Pedro Carvajal
  • Ricardo Obregón Trujillo
  • Eugenio Castro Carvajal
  • Alfredo Carvajal Sinisterra
  • Adolfo Carvajal Quelquejeu
  • Q31617
  • Succession, next generation
  • Education, entrepreneurship, leadership
  • Governance, parallel planning, strategy, boards