The remarkable impact of cultural diversity has never been better illustrated than how traditional business succession in Japan has developed over many centuries. Family controlled companies such as Toyota and Suzuki have a long history of adopting appropriately qualified male businessmen to lead the business into the future, where no existing bloodline leader candidate exists.
Last year more than 81,000 people were adopted in Japan, one of the highest rates in the world. Remarkably, more than 90 per cent of those adopted were adults. The practice of adopting men in their 20s and 30s is used to rescue biologically ill-fated families and ensure a business heir, says Vikas Mehrotra, of the University of Alberta, the lead author of a new paper on the Japanese phenomenon of adult adoptions. "We haven't come across this custom in any other part of the world," he says.