Feature Stories


From the Dean

The huge contribution family businesses make to the global economy doesn’t always get the level of attention it deserves. From Ford and Walmart in the US to Volkswagen and BMW in Germany, many world-renowned brand names are the public face of such enterprises.

Here in Asia their significance, both economically and culturally, is even greater. On the mainland, family businesses account for about 85 per cent of the dynamic private sector, contributing 70 per cent of national GDP, while in Hong Kong they make up over 60 per cent of firms listed on the HKEX.

Given their significance in the global economy, and with family business owners ever more open to new ideas, it is unsurprising that family businesses have become an increasingly important research subject. Today, our Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies, led by Professor Roger King, is one of the leading research centers in the region.

Focusing on ethnic Chinese family businesses, a grouping that plays a vibrant and influential role both at home and on the international stage, the Center brings together academics, practitioners and policymakers to share knowledge, insights and ideas.

In addition to research, the Center invites family business owners to share their successful practices and challenging experiences, through courses and workshops designed for family business members and their service professionals. We believe that the value of our learning activities and studies can only be fully realized through the constant exchange of knowledge with practitioners. Consistent with that approach, we’ve invited 15 speakers to our upcoming three-day family business course, to be held in early November.

Because of the emphasis we place on seeing things primarily from a practitioners’ viewpoint, we continue to develop real-business cases and highlight good practices to share experiences with the industry. In this edition of the magazine, leaders of several highly successful family businesses talk about the challenges and satisfactions that come with running a family business. They include Dr Hans Michael Jebsen, Chairman of Jebsen and Co and also Chairman of our School Advisory Council, and three other School Advisory Council members: Mr David Lee, Director of Lee Kum Kee Company Limited; Mr Sukanto Tanoto, Founder and Chairman of RGE; and Mr Maximilian Ma, Chairman of Lee Heng Diamond Group, along with his son Theodore.

They all play a key role in supporting our School and our family business case studies and courses, covering a range of areas such as entrepreneurship, governance, philanthropy, and succession. These areas are of keen interest in particular to Mr Tanoto, who has enabled the work of our eponymous Center through his generous support. Mr Tanoto has joined our recent luncheon forum ‑ Shaping the Future of Chinese Family Businesses, as a guest of honor to announce that his foundation would again be making a donation to support the Center and its work in the years ahead.

Professor Tam Kar Yan