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

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR316
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 578-2007
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Kongo Gumi
Industry : Construction
Countries : Japan

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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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Early History

According to some accounts, members of the Kongo family were brought from Baekje, Korea, to Japan by Prince Shotoku more than 1,400 years ago to build the Shitennoji Temple. (Refer to Exhibit I for a timeline of Kongo Gumi). Shotoku was the son of the first Soga emperor...

Kongo Gumi in the 20th Century

The period between 1868 and 1912, known as the 'Meiji Restoration' saw many changes with a push toward modernization and the adoption of Western cultural and political aspects. State-supported companies such as Kongo Gumi were affected as changes were brought about in regulations and financial arrangements.

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Faced with these challenges, Kongo Gumi was forced to diversify from building temples and castles to private and commercial buildings...

In the New Millenium

In the new millennium, Kongo Gumi was recognized globally as the world's longest running family-owned business (Refer to Exhibit II for a list of the Top 10 Oldest Long-lived Family Owned Businesses). As in the 20th century, the company continued to focus on temple building and repair works in the new millennium...

Secrets of Longevity

Experts felt that Kongo Gumi had many lessons to teach on how a family-owned business could be run successfully. Stability and flexibility in business practices, sound succession principles, and value-based management were the secrets of its longevity, according to them...

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