My doctoral research (2000-2003) explored the persistence of family-controlled enterprises in Singapore and other fast-developing economies of Southeast Asia. These enterprises were typically formed by entrepreneurs facing extreme economic and social challenges. A principal finding of this research was in the closely bound nature of “extended” kin groups in family-controlled firms with the evolution of the economy and society of several ethnic Chinese-dominant states in Southeast Asia. I have continued with this research of family and kin relations in the development of Southeast Asian states by exploring strategic growth processes among family and other closely-controlled organizations. I am interested in the ways that entrepreneurs in these organizations draw on their challenges, without merely overcoming them, by creating and developing ventures that leverage highly constrained resources.
I have published comparative studies of closely-controlled enterprises in East Asia and Europe in book chapters and international management journals. I have drawn on data from primary (conversations) and secondary (private and public archives) sources, and I have used comparative textual and statistical research methods within a largely qualitative, exploratory research framework.
My present research draws on unusual, deep access to family members and non-family employees of an iconic firm with a global brand name, Cadbury, that was family owned for nearly 150 years. Corporate and private archives of Cadbury between 1969 and 2000 have also been researched. In this work, my co-authors and I are interested in the nature of the management and influence of Cadbury family managers who continued to head up the firm for 31 years despite selling most of their shareholdings in 1969. Under the guidance of two well-known members of the family, Cadbury grew to become a constituent FTSE 100 member and a repeat winner of the accolade of one of the most admired firms firms in Britain.
Two journal articles on the phenomenon of Cadbury’s professional family management during the 31 “golden” years of the firm’s development between 1969 and 2000 are in preparation. My collaborators are Natalia Vershinina of Audencia Business School, France, and Matthew Cadbury, an academic who is a fifth generation member of the Cadbury family. Matthew also worked for many years as a senior manager in Cadbury Schweppes plc.