[Sponsored Article] By Professor Roger KING Founder and Senior Advisor of the Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies HKUST Business School The Chinese and Jewish both have thousands of years’ civilizations. These historic civilizations have developed long-term traditions and wisdom, which influence how to manage business and wealth among Chinese and Jewish people. The two ethnic groups have many similarities and differences. In this article, we compare them based on three fundamental values: their attitude towards money, their tradition of giving, and the hierarchies they have established. We also analyze how Chinese family offices can benefit by following the examples set by both cultures. Judaism and Confucianism Judaism attaches great importance to laws, as Jewish people believe that this is the only guide for thought and behavior. In Jewish culture, laws are called the Torah, a Hebrew word, and usually pay attention to the daily life of Jewish people rather than being dogmas or creeds. Each family must study the Torah and obey its regulations. In China, Confucianism has been the philosophy with the most influence on Chinese values, ethics, and morals for over 2,500 years. Confucianism governs the behavior of individuals, families, social groups, and nations in a spirit of harmony. Confucianism also envisions a society based on a hierarchical system, in which the role of each individual is determined by their position in society. The first basic value: the attitude towards money Both Chinese and Jewish people consider money as important. The Torah reminds Jewish people that it is the “Lord your God” who gives you the power to obtain wealth (Deuteronomy 8: 12-18), and anyone wishing to acquire wisdom should study how money works (Babylonian Talmud, Bava Batra 175b). In Confucianism, money is called “Li (利),” meaning riches and honor, which all men desire (Analects 4: 5). However, the two ethnic groups put different weights on money. For Jewish people, money is an essential part of life, as they used to live in a hostile environment and many were forced to leave their ancestral homeland. Nothing can be easily taken from them except money and their own skills. In terms of family business succession planning, Jewish people put more emphasis on wealth preservation. For them, business is a tool for generating wealth. The longevity of a business is not essential, due to external historical factors. In comparison, Chinese family business owners care much more about business longevity. They will not give up on a business, even if it is failing or part of a sunset industry. By learning from Jewish people, they could realize that exiting at the right time can be a valid and valuable option. As long as wealth is preserved, they can start a new business in the future. Preserving wealth should be one of the most important objectives of Chinese family offices. The second basic value: tradition of giving Jewish people and traditional Chinese both believe in giving back to society. For them, giving is an act of righteousness. From the perspective of Judaism, one should pursue “tzedakah,” the pursuit of justice or righteousness (Deuteronomy 16: 20). Similarly, “being charitable and generous” is a positive tradition in Chinese culture. Confucians believe that people should act according to the tradition of “shi (施)” (giving) in accordance with benevolence and righteousness, which are the core values of Confucianism. Giving is a work of art and should be done appropriately. Jewish people believe that it is important to “strengthen one’s hand.” A person who helps a poor person should give him a gift or a loan, accept him in a business partnership, or help him find employment (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Charity, 10: 7-14). Confucianism also says: “What you don’t want done to yourself, don’t do to others” (Analects 12: 2). Nevertheless, there is a slight difference between the two ethnic groups in terms of giving. The Jewish tradition of giving complies with Jewish laws. It is not an integral component of compassion, social assistance, and public relief, as in the Chinese tradition. Jewish people were originally guided by the compulsory tithing and Pushke. Rabbis regulated one tenth of people’s property and, by extension, the resulting income as a charitable donation (Deuteronomy 14: 28-29). In most Jewish homes, a Pushke is a white and blue charity box, used to deposit tzedakah coins during daily prayer services (Raphael, 1979). As a result, Jewish family businesses involve more systematic guidance for charitable activities. Many Jewish family offices undertake well-planned strategic philanthropy rather than simple “cheque writing” philanthropy. There is also a tendency in Chinese family offices to participate in philanthropy. We suggest that these new family offices plan for more strategic philanthropic roles, which can not only help preserve family values and legacy, but can also help keep the family united by involving all family members in philanthropic activities. The third basic value: distance of the hierarchy The distance of the hierarchy in Chinese and Jewish cultures is very different. In fact, they are almost opposite. Based on Hofstede’s “national culture,” Israel, where most Jewish people live, has a low PDI (Power Distance Index ), while China has a comparatively high PDI. This indicates that Jewish people believe in independence, equal rights, and accessible superiors, and that management facilitates and empowers (Hofstede, 2011). Conversely, Chinese families or organizations highly value a polarized subordinate-superior relationship (Hofstede, 2011), according to which people should behave according to their position and have no aspirations beyond their rank (Analects 8: 14). The first reason for the difference in PDI between the two ethnic groups is their distinct understanding of harmony. Judaism holds the view that the world is naturally disharmonious, which can be seen in biblical stories, such as the creation of the world as part of an evolving act of separation or the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Patt-Shamir, 2006). Unlike Judaism, Confucianism believes that the world is harmonious by nature and that harmony is the ideal of the social world (Patt-Shamir & Zhang, 2013). The master said: “the noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony” (Analects 13: 23). Second, Jewish and Chinese people value filial piety differently. Confucius emphasized social and family hierarchy, including filial piety. This is referred to as “Xiao (孝)” in Chinese, which means not only to feed one’s parents, but also to respect them even after their death (Analects 2: 5, 2: 7). In most Chinese families, the patriarch (or matriarch) plays a key role and may be the person who defines the family’s mandate to preserve its wealth, legacy, harmony, and unity (King & Peng, 2017). Although Jewish people respect their parents, obeying them unconditionally seems impossible. There is a tradition of debating the content of the Torah with family members during the traditional Jewish festival of Passover. Everyone, young and old, is encouraged to express their own ideas. They are not afraid of authority and are innovative and entrepreneurial (Senor & Singer, 2011). The PDI can influence how family offices are run and managed. A family office with a low PDI could be a good place to nurture innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. The PDI can also influence a family office’s investment strategy, with a higher propensity to invest in innovation and diversification. Our research showed that over 70% of the next generation in Asia prefer to start their own business (King & Cheng, 2018). As a result, a Chinese family office can provide them with start-up funds to try out their ideas. If successful, the new business can become part of the business diversification strategy, which also contributes to succession planning. Conclusion Although it is neither possible nor necessary for Chinese family offices to fully adopt the approach of other ethnic groups due to cultural and generational differences, it is always good to learn from the best adaptable experience of others. A better understanding of the differences between ethnic groups can give Chinese people more ideas about running their own business and family offices. References Deuteronomy, Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). (1973, 1978, 1984, 2011). Retrieved from Bible Gateway: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+1&version=NIV Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context. International Association for Cross-Culture Psychology , 2(1). King, R., & Cheng, J. (2018). Where technological disruptors meet Asian family business: Rethinking next-generation leadership and career . Singapore: Lombard Odier (Singapore) Ltd. King, R., & Peng, W. (2017). Family office: the Eastern approach. 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