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How Global Families Navigate Cross-Cultural Succession

The Business of Family
How Global Families Navigate Cross-Cultural Succession
By Mike Boyd • Issue #7 • View online
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.
Individualist Culture
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?
Honour Culture
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.

A huge thank you to everyone who rated or reviewed the podcast, or DM’d or emailed me to introduce themselves last week. The response has been overwhelming and it’s been so nice to connect with many of you. :)
Don’t miss this week’s episode with Tim Cosulich - 6th Generation CEO of an Italian family shipping business.
  1. I’m researching Family Office software programs for front office, back office and family governance. If you’re aware of any, or better yet use one, I’d love to hear from you.
  2. I’d love to hear from cross-cultural multigenerational families and how they’ve navigated cultural differences in their family enterprise.
This Week's Book:
This Week's Podcast Episode:
The Cosulich family's approach to family governance is quite unique!
The Cosulich family's approach to family governance is quite unique!
Standout Quotes:
  • “When we select the next generations, it is important that we focus on those who are motivated by similar things and not necessarily by money.”- Tim Cosulich [14:43]
  • “I don’t think the business must be run by family members; I think the business must be run by the best people.”- Tim Cosulich [29:13]
  • ‘This was our way to protect the business from the family“ - Tim Cosulich [34:55]
  • “If I think about my own life and when and where did I really grow and learn things, it’s mostly in my failures, not my successes.”- Tim Cosulich [44:11]
Interesting links:
The Inside Story Of How The Ricketts Family Schemed And Feuded Their Way To Owning The Chicago Cubs
UBS Global Family Office Report 2020
Mike Boyd
Rob Robson’s episode on
The Business of Family Podcast has been really popular.

The biggest takeaway was:

Rob’s 4 Rules from Harvard for Family Enterprise Success:
Stay in touch
Mike Boyd is the co-owner and CEO of the Vroom Group, Founder of Prosura Insurance, Investor at Mudbrick Capital, Host of The Business of Family Podcast and an active member of YPO.
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Mike Boyd

I'm inspired by multi-generational businesses and the families who steward them. Join me as I learn how some of the world's most interesting families share values, knowledge, resources, and wealth with the next generation.

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