Keeping it in the family at CEIBS

An explosion in demand for cases about the challenges and opportunities that face family businesses in China has led to the creation of a dedicated research centre at CEIBS (China Europe International Business School).

The CEIBS Centre for Family Heritage was set up as a knowledge centre committed to helping China’s family businesses sustain and go global as well as enabling foreign enterprises to better understand China’s family firms.

The Centre’s Co-Director Professor Jean Lee and Case Consultant Rebecca Chung are currently developing a collection of cases focusing on succession and business transformation issues at Chinese family companies.

‘An influential group of family businesses in China is currently facing first to second generation succession planning and the demand for leading-edge cases is surging,’ says Rebecca. ‘We aim to create and disseminate cutting-edge knowledge, and the case method is one of the most effective ways to share this knowledge with business owners and executives.’

Case development

Says Jean: ‘Translation of some cultural assumptions and interpretation of the phenomena can sometimes be difficult. Chinese people also tend to share thoughts or conclusions but not their thinking processes. This can make it hard to get in-depth information when interviewing protagonists.’

Rebecca adds: ‘It is not natural for business families in China to openly talk about issues such as ownership details, succession choices and tension within the family. We need to build mutually trusting relationships with these families and treat sensitive information with caution and respect. The other key challenge is verifying the accuracy of publicly available information before presenting our case draft to the protagonist for approval. This we apply our accumulated knowledge of the subject matters and analytical frameworks to make judgment.’

Rich portfolio Expanding collection

The CEIBS Chinese family business collection of cases, published by Ivey Publishing, is steadily growing and includes the following:

Succession in Chinese Family Businesses (A): Fotile and the Mao Family
Ref 9B15C020
Rather than just becoming one of China’s top 500 companies, Mao Lixiang wanted Fotile to last for 500 years. How could he and his son Zhongqun best nurture the third generation and ensure that their high-end kitchen appliances brand would continue from generation to generation?

Succession in Chinese Family Businesses (B): Huamao and Xu Family
Ref 9B15C021
Can a Family Agreement signed by everyone involved nurture harmony within this family and stimulate prosperity of their business? Xu Wanmao believes that succession does not mean only inheriting wealth; on the contrary, he believes wealth may be harmful. He does not want to be a ‘lousy ancestor’.

Succession in Chinese Family Businesses (C): An Urgent Family Meeting
Ref 9B15C022
This is a role play exercise that illustrates the Chinese cultural and economic characteristics influencing succession, and facilitates family members to practise communicating with each other about succession issues.
Teaching note
Ref 8B15C020

Neoglory Holdings Group: The Succession Choice
Ref 9B15C040
With her dream to quadruple the Group’s assets to ¥100 billion by 2024, 52-year-old Zhou Xiaoguang pondered when to let his son Jiangbo take over the Group and how to make non-family executives and other second-generation members help him transform and grow the business.
Teaching note
Ref 8B15C040

Wensli Silk: Succession and International Luxury Branding
(Coming soon)
This case will explore a number of topics, including female entrepreneurship; mother-to-daughter succession; the role of son-in-law in succession; internationalization; and managing a foreign, non-family CEO.

 

‘Teachers around the world can use these cases on their executive education programmes. Each case has a different twist and unique issues based on its individual context,’ says Rebecca.

‘Together, they offer a comprehensive view of the current issues, as well as a rich portfolio of the latest management concepts and practices. They also paint a background picture of how the Chinese economy has transformed from one stage to another in the last three decades.’

Says Jean: ‘China is one of the biggest markets in the world and growing rapidly. The world is curious to know what and how the Chinese think. These cases can help the world understand Chinese businesses and how they deal with the challenges they face.’