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Family Business Succession in Hong Kong: The Case of Yung Kee

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This case study examines the succession of Chinese family business in Hong Kong, drawing upon theories of the firm. More specifically, it utilizes capabilities theories, property rights economics and Neo-Confucianism to understand management disputes and infighting among the members in a Chinese family business in Hong Kong. This paper will argue that the founder of a Chinese business firm in Hong Kong is able to lead his or her offspring to create a dynamic enterprise via charismatic leadership and family rules embedded in traditional Chinese values. However, these two strategic assets disappear following the passing away of the founder as well as the emergence of new social values. When the founder passes on the enterprise to his or her offspring using more or less the equal inheritance system, the traditional Chinese value is unable to enforce the leader’s will to consolidate the strengths of the second generation family members to maintain the founder’s business. Furthermore, when the business is owned by all family members, property rights of the firm become unclear. Without effective enforcement of traditional Chinese values and with collective ownership rights, some family members will have the incentive to capture the economic rent that is shared by all members. In other words, some family members behave opportunistically or even cheat in order to capture economic gains in the public domain. High monitoring and enforcement costs in the form of court battle and endless disputes will occur. Rent dissipation occurs in the form of deterioration of the quality of the family business. This case study is based on Yung Kee, an internationally well-known roast goose restaurant in Hong Kong as an illustration.


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