Message from the Director

Family businesses have long been dominating Asia’s corporate landscape. Although the number of family-owned businesses is high, they are usually small and medium-sized businesses and therefore tend to keep a low profile. Consequently, many people ignore or even look down on them.  Government policies can support small and medium enterprises although many of these policies are not specifically meant for family businesses. Most business schools in the world also tend to design curricula that focus on dispersed-ownership corporations rather than family-owned businesses. We strongly believe that family businesses deserve a lot more attention than they receive.

Historically, family entrepreneurship is one of the key drivers of economic growth in East Asia. Many family businesses have started small and have grown into large and established corporations. While some may become stagnant, most of them continue to grow. In Asia, a key factor towards the continued success of a family business is that the successor inherits not only the business itself but also the fighting and entrepreneurial spirit of the founder. This principle applies to many family businesses in Asia.

We find that most students, policy-makers and even the business owners themselves have yet to understand and realize the significance of family businesses for a country. There is a paucity of knowledge that poses challenges in running a sustainable family business. Many of the first generation entrepreneurs have long reached their retirement age; therefore, succession, the professionalization of the management team, trans-generational entrepreneurship and family wealth management are vital issues to deal with for many family businesses.

There are of course more solutions than problems; deficiencies actually can lead to new opportunities.  In establishing the Center for Family Business, we have provided a platform for collaborative research with international and regional research institutions; the Center is working closely with industry professionals to showcase exemplary practices on the trans-generational model of family businesses. This Center aims to work with Asian family businesses and professionals in this field to assemble the missing pieces for an agile ecology that can help to sustain the growth of family businesses.

Center for Family Business may be differentiated from other similar entities in several ways:
  • Balance: Blending the ideas of the East and the West
  • Scope: Covering businesses, families, and advisors
  • Integration: Using a multi-disciplinary approach with an emphasis on entrepreneurship
  • Issues: Focusing on hardware, such as trust and rules; and software, such as values and love

The Center serves as a base for knowledge creation and dissemination for both academics and industry practitioners. It is also our aim for the Center to be a platform for collaboration between family businesses, advisors, consultants, academics and policy-makers.

Prof. Kevin Au

Director, Center for Family Business