Title: Succession, division, and the drive for self-employment: the case of the renowned Hong Kong restaurant 'Yung Kee'

Authors: Victor Zheng; Po-San Wan; Siu-Lun Wong

Addresses: Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong ' Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong ' Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong

Abstract: Since the practice of equal division of assets among sons (the equal inheritance system) is the institutional and cultural context of Chinese family businesses, the capital that has accumulated in the family property is continually diluted in the process of family division. This can obviously lead to strife. Academics have explored in depth the obstacles that this custom poses to the continued development of a business. However, these discussions have very seldom touched upon the equally pervasive positive aspects of this custom, which are brought about by division and competition. This paper uses the case of Yung Kee, a renowned restaurant in Hong Kong, to illustrate this under-studied area. In describing the development of the business, and the division and contention over the family's assets, we analyse the situation wherein no distinction is made between older and younger sons in the system of an equal division of property among the sons, and how this practice encourages the members of the family to develop their potential and compete with each other. From this process, we locate the source of the dynamism in Chinese family businesses - entrepreneurship, i.e. the strong drive for self-employment.

Keywords: China; family firms; family businesses; succession; family inheritance; family division; competition; entrepreneurship; economic development; self-employment; Hong Kong; restaurants; Yung Kee; equal inheritance; cultural context; culture; family assets; business dynamism.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMP.2016.079614

International Journal of Management Practice, 2016 Vol.9 No.4, pp.344 - 364

Received: 26 Sep 2015
Accepted: 11 Feb 2016

Published online: 05 Oct 2016 *

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