Andrew Carnegie, a 19th-century tycoon, famously said that inherited wealth “deadens talents and energies”—one reason why he gave most of his fortune to charity. Business research tends to support the Carnegie thesis. Companies controlled by heirs often underperform competitors that have professional managers. Except, apparently, in Japan.
A forthcoming paper* in the Journal of Financial Economics finds not only that inherited family control is still common in Japanese business, but that family firms are “puzzlingly competitive”, outperforming otherwise similar professionally managed companies. “These results are highly robust and…suggest family control ‘causes’ good performance rather than the converse,” say the authors.
Japan boasts some of the world’s oldest family-run businesses, and many family firms—Suzuki, Matsui Securities, Suntory—break the rule of steady dynastic decline. So how do Japanese firms do it? The answer, says the paper, is adoption.
Read the rest of the story: Adult adoption in Japan: Keeping it in the family.