Today, most successful business families operate in more than one cultural environment as they spread throughout the world, assimilate into new communities, and build their enterprises.
Every wealthy Singaporean family I know sends their children for higher education in the UK, US, Australia or New Zealand. Despite Singapore having one of the best education systems in the world, there remains a strong pull towards the status offered by names like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge and LSE.
New influences begin to enter the family as subsequent generations are sent for education and training in faraway lands and diverse cultures. The resulting conflicts can bring significant stress to the family and risk to the family enterprise, especially at times of generational transition.
Western culture, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Northern Europe and Australia.
Families in strongly authority-based or collective cultures hesitate to adopt common family business recommendations which advocate open communication, shared leadership, directly assertive confrontation, and analytical thinking — all associated with Western thought and action.
Despite the field’s accepted wisdom, these practices are neither culturally universal nor automatically helpful outside Western culture.
Collective Harmony Culture
East Asian culture, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, and Japan.
How can a Chinese third-generation family member even approach the patriarch to inquire about the family’s succession plan when, in doing so, according to Confucian principles, the patriarch will feel challenged and dishonored?
A diverse ethnic cluster consisting of Latin America, Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, India, Russia, and Africa.
In a Middle-Eastern family where communication must remain indirect and leadership traditionally passes to the eldest son, how can a second-generation daughter (trained at the London School of Economics) broach the idea she wants to be included in the family’s next-generation planning?
The issues facing each cross-cultural family are nuanced and unique, however there are many useful ideas, practices and solutions offered for each form of common conflict in this week’s book