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New Asian Emperors: The Business Strategies of the Overseas Chinese



New Asian Emperors: The Business Strategies of the Overseas Chinese

George T. Haley, Usha C. V. Haley, ChinHwee Tan

ISBN: 978-1-118-58050-9 November 2012 256 Pages

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Southeast Asia has a population of more than half a billion, yet its economy is dominated by about 40 families, most of Overseas Chinese descent. Their conglomerates span sectors as diverse as real estate, telecommunications, hotels, industrial goods, computers and sugar plantations. New Asian Emperors shows how and why Overseas Chinese companies continue to dominate the region and have extended their reach in East Asia, despite the Asian financial and SARS crises of the past decade. The authors base their conclusions on in-depth structured interviews spanning a decade with the often elusive Overseas Chinese CEOs including Li Ka-shing, Stan Shih, Victor Fung, Stephen Riady and Sukanto Tanoto, as well as on the strategic information that their companies use.

The analysis of the New Asian Emperors’ present-day management techniques and practices draws on the history, culture and philosophical perspectives of the Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia. In the midst of today’s global economic crisis, this book also takes a fresh look at the role and management practices of the Overseas Chinese as they continue to create some of Asia’s wealthiest and most successful companies.

New Asian Emperors explains:

  • The sources and characteristics of Overseas Chinese management
  • Whether Overseas Chinese management practices will spread in the same way that Japanese management did in the 1970s
  • Whether Western management technologies have found themselves outmaneuvered in Asia’s post-crisis arena
  • The Overseas Chinese managers’ strategies for the informational black hole of Southeast Asia and what Western managers can learn from them
  • The New Asian Emperors’ unique strategic perspectives and management styles revealed through exclusive, in-depth interviews
  • The implications for successfully co-operating and competing with the Overseas Chinese of Southeast Asia

New Asian Emperors offers key insights into the Overseas Chinese and the important role that cultural roots play in their dominance of Southeast Asian business.



PART 1: The Foundations of Understanding.

Chapter 1: Introducing the Overseas Chinese of Southeast Asia.

Patterns of Chinese Migration.

The trader pattern.

The coolie pattern.

The sojourner pattern.

The re-migrant pattern.

Who Are the Overseas Chinese?

What Is a Network?

The Role of the Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia.

The Role of the Overseas Chinese Worldwide.

Following Chapters.

Chapter 2: Confucianism Plus: The Philosophical and Cultural Roots of the Overseas Chinese.

Confucianism’s Influence on Chinese Trade and Economics.

The Family.

The Relationships and Ethical Behavior.

Differing Ethical Concepts.

Chapter 3: The Overseas Chinese Today: Not the Family Business, But the Family as a Business.

What Is a Chinese Network?


Hierarchical and dyadic ties.


Contextual morality.

Flexible boundaries.

Historical and Environmental Effects on the Overseas.

Chinese Business Networks.

Distinguishing Cultural Traits.

Firm-related attributes.

Loyalty-related attributes.

Trust-related attributes.

How Networks Permeate Formal Structures.

PART 2: The Foundations of Analysis.

Chapter 4: Introduction to an Informational Void: The Black Hole of Southeast Asia.

The Informational Black Hole of Southeast Asia.

Operating in an Informational Black Hole.

Hands-on experience.

Transfer of knowledge.

Qualitative information.

Holistic information processing.

Action-driven decision making.

Emergent planning.

Chapter 5: Strategic Management of the Overseas Chinese Business Groups: Deciphering Patterns.

Tacit Knowledge and the Informational Black Hole.

Strategic Planning and the Networks.

Planning, classically.

Developing core competencies.

Crafting strategies.

A Summary of Overseas Chinese Management Practices.

The Overseas Chinese and crafting strategy.

How the Overseas Chinese plan.

The Overseas Chinese and their core competencies.

PART 3: The Implications for Business.

Chapter 6: In the Aftermath of the Asian Crises: Revolution or Evolution?

The Path of Destruction.

The 1997–1998 Asian financial crisis.

The 2002–2004 SARS crisis.

The Post-crises Evolution of Overseas Chinese Business Groups.

Competitive Advantages of the Overseas Chinese.





Competitive Disadvantages of the Overseas Chinese.

Home turf only.

Susceptibility to blind-siding.

Poor proprietary capabilities.

Family limits.

Lack of professionalization.

Chapter 7: Competitive Implications of the Overseas Chinese: Doing Business with the New Asian Emperors.

General Implications for Multinationals.

Specific Implications for Multinationals.

Strategic competitiveness.

Human resource practices.

Product and technology.

Contract flexibility.


Promotion and pricing.

Implications for Regional Governments.

Implications for Researchers.

Speculations About the Future.

The Adaptive-Action Road Map.

The road of knowledge.

The road of speed.

The road of action.

The road of results.

The road of relationships.

The road of quality.

The road of passion.

The road of legacy.


Appendix: List of Interviewees.