Background Note | HBS Case Collection | November 2007 (Revised September 2010)

The Rong Family: A Chinese Business History

by Elisabeth Koll


Provides the complex historical background to understanding the development of family businesses in China from the late 19th century to the present. Using the example of the Rong family, China's most prominent industrialist family in pre-1949 China, analyzes the organizational structure and transformation of Chinese family firms in terms of managerial hierarchies, kinship alliances, and local networks. Emphasizes the response of the family business to major political crises, demonstrates how they dealt with the transition to a socialist government in 1949, and interprets the success of overseas Chinese family business as well as the revival of family business networks in the wake of China's economic reforms.

Keywords: Family Business; Business History; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Structure; Alliances; Business and Government Relations; Social and Collaborative Networks; China;


Koll, Elisabeth. "The Rong Family: A Chinese Business History." Harvard Business School Background Note 308-066, November 2007. (Revised September 2010.)