The family business literature in developing countries suggests that their organizational features inhibit innovations that create niche products. In industrializing Malaysia, where family small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) are undergoing a generational shift, there is little research on their capacity to develop the tacit knowledge of the founding generation. This assessment of 29 thriving family SMEs in plastics and food manufacturing evaluates how a new generation has nurtured innovative management, manufacturing, and marketing techniques. By adopting a business history approach that appraises the development of tacit knowledge, this study validates the need for family SMEs to institute organizational reforms to codify knowledge and therefore ensure long-term sustainability.

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