CGIO 04 September 2014

Academic Conference on Business Groups

The topic of Business Groups was the focus of leading academics from around the world during a two-day academic conference organised by the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO) on 28 August.

CGIO Conference

Distinguished professors and researchers from Northeastern University, INSEAD, Peking University, Kyoto University, Bocconi University, SMU, NTU and Indian Institute of Management presented their research papers on a range of related issues, including their relevance, performance implications, as well as their social impact. The conference concluded with an executive roundtable with participation from owners of some of the leading family business groups in Asia, including ACR Capital Holdings, Tamina Investments and Pacific Radiance.

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“This is a gathering of some great eminent business group researchers. Issues related to business groups are really huge today, and the business world has started to take notice of the nuances in various business groups. A Tata Group may not be the same as a Berkshire Hathaway. While I believe that a lot of research is still only empirical, we are making progress. There is a lot of rich expertise on business groups within the School itself,” says the internationally-renowned Professor James Lincoln, who is also the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Walter A. Haas School of Business of the University of California at Berkeley. He gave the key note address.

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Among the topics discussed in the conference were the evolution of business groups and family business groups, performance implications for state-led business groups and business groups’ strategies in emerging markets.

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“I am very interested in business groups; and as a historian, I believe that a lot of developing countries can learn from the past of business groups in developed countries and business groups will become more relevant in the future. This inter-disciplinary conference has been a great experience to learn and hear from fellow academics,” says Professor Andrea Colli from Bocconi University, who presented his paper on strategies, structures and rationale of business groups in Italy.


Prof Chung Chi-Nien shared closing remarks by illustrating the consequences and influences of business groups in our society today. Citing two recent examples of the trouble at Espirito Santo, the 150-year old Portugal family dynasty and the fall of Mr Yoo Byung-eun, a South Korean tycoon due to a ferry-sinking disaster, Prof Chung suggested further areas of research into the social impact of business groups – how they affect our society and its stakeholders.

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