Kongo Gumi: Lessons from the Legendary Family-Owned Business' Longevity and Ultimate Demise

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : BSTR316 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Entry Strategy/ Competitive Strategy/ Differentiation
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 578-2007
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Kongo Gumi
Industry : Construction
Countries : Japan


The case is about the Osaka, Japan-based construction company Kongo Gumi Co. (Kongo Gumi), which was regarded as the world's oldest continuously operating family-owned business till the end of 2005. In January 2006, the company was liquidated and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Takamatsu Construction Group Co Ltd. Kongo Gumi, which was run by the Kongo family and was believed to have been operating continuously since 578, had been engaged in the construction of Buddhist temples since its inception. In more recent times, it had diversified into general construction works as well. However, factors such as over-extending its financial resources during the economic downturn and failure to effectively respond to social changes led to the company's ultimate demise, according to experts.

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Experts felt that family-owned businesses could learn a lot from the business practices followed by Kongo Gumi. In particular, its value-based management and succession planning practices interested the experts. The factors that led to its downfall too provided some vital lessons to family-owned businesses, they felt.


Understand the issues and challenges in running a family-owned business.

Analyze the reasons for Kongo Gumi's longevity and downfall as a family-owned business.

Understand the importance of managing family dynamics and succession issues in family-owned businesses.

Appreciate the importance of value based management and the importance of recognizing and responding to market trends.


  Page No.
Death at 1428 Years 1
Early History 2
Kongo Gumi in the 20th Century 3
In the New Millenium 4
Secrets of Longevity 5
Lessons from its Demise 7
Exhibits 10


Family-owned business, Family dynamics, Generational dynamics, Succession principles, Succession planning, Value-based management, Motto, Principle, Management ethic, Management style, Leadership, Technology, Computer-aided design, Diversification, Business environment, Social changes, Construction, Financial, Economic downturn

Death at 1428 Years - Next Page>>

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