In 2004, Time Magazine proclaimed, “Business in Asia is a family affair.” Indeed, family enterprises have been the backbone of business activity across Asian economies. Interest in Asian business families has been gaining steam in the past 5 years, due in part to the change of business landscape since the 1997 Asian financial crisis – the conditions in which family businesses operate have grown much more complex. Moreover, given that the economic success story of Southeast Asia commenced post-World War II between 1960 and the late 1980s, the business families are nearing the end of the transition between business founders and their children.
Despite the importance of business families to the growth of Asian economies, research into these families is scarce and anecdotal, in part due to their relative youth. In contrast, in North America and Europe in depth research has been undertaken by universities, associations and individual authors, detailing many aspects of business families across multiple generations. The research partners embarked upon the Asian Business Family Survey to fill the gap in the collective knowledge base of Asian business families and establish the foundation for a better understanding of this distinct and influential community.