Centre for Business Development

In a dynamic world, companies are forced to evolve and grow. Especially with the rapid development of markets in Asia, companies can lag behind and lose their competitiveness.

Not only are markets changing dynamically, as more and more people are middle class and for the first time have real purchasing power, but also many new companies enter the markets trying to participate in Asia's growth. Business development deals with such growth opportunities and the competitiveness of companies. As part of its research focus, the St.Gallen Institute of Management in Asia pays special attention to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and family businesses, which together form the backbone of the Switzerland and Singapore economies.

The competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is determined only to a limited extent by the level of the cost of intermediate consumption. More important in today's competitive context are factors such as the innovation environment or organizational structures and processes. The aim of this priority is the identification of factors that increase SME competitiveness. Another focus is to investigate management and leadership behavior in SMEs. At the same time, knowledge about the Asian context, which has hitherto been based heavily on Western literature, has to be expanded.

Family businesses play a central role in Singapore and Asia in general. Over 50% of the listed companies in Singapore are family-owned and these companies dominate many industries, such as the construction and real estate sectors. Many family businesses in Asia are still in first or second-generation ownership, and one of the biggest challenges facing these companies is their succession. The main focus is to analyse the succession process more closely and to gain valuable insights for practice.

Succession in Family Firms in Asia

In 2017, a new research project has been launched by Prof. Dr. Thomas Zellweger and Prof. Dr. Christine Scheef as a joint collaboration between the Center for Family Business and the SGI.

In Asia, the vast majority of large, publicly traded firms are family owned and controlled. Family firms play a crucial role not only in business but also account for a substantial part of employment and economic development. Many family businesses in Asia are still in first or second-generation ownership, and one of the biggest challenges facing these companies is their succession. As part of the succession, they not only select a new CEO, but also change their ownership and management structures in the period before and after the handover. Recent research has started to explore family firms in Asia (e.g. Peng & Jiang, 2010; Claessens et al., 2000; Bertrand & Schoar, 2006) but, as most succession research has focused on the US and partly, European context, we still know little about the succession context in Asian family firms.

The goal of the research project is to better understand the pre-succession grooming period of successors and the leadership transition period contrasting Asian and US firms with a particular focus on family firms. Particularly, the project aims to derive theoretical insights and practical advice on how to effectively manage the succession process in Asian family firms.

Responsible for the Research Centre of Business Development are Prof. Dr. Thomas Zellweger (head), Prof. Dr. Michael Hilb, Prof. Dr. Thierry Volery and Prof. Dr. Christine Scheef.