Inside an African family business estate: the founder’s legacy and the successor’s dilemma

Zubaida Muhumed (School of Business Administration, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Virginia Bodolica (Department of Management, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Martin Spraggon (Department of Management, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies

ISSN: 2045-0621

Publication date: 31 July 2017


Subject area

Family business.

Study level/applicability

Specialized undergraduate courses, Elective MBA courses.

Case overview

This case study uncovers the remarkable story of the relentless growth and sporadic weakening of Nurul Ain (NA) Limited, a family business conglomerate with major operations in the Eastern region of Africa. The case provides an opportunity to follow the different stages of development of this family-owned organization through a sequence of strategic events and family dynamics that led to its recurrent success, decline and rejuvenation. Despite the numerous successes of NA Limited since its establishment in the early 1990s, the ambiguous relationship between family, ownership and management systems has caused a ripple effect of strategic, structural and governance challenges that threaten the sustainability of the family business. Nowadays, the founder faces the pressing challenge of ensuring his legacy remains intact and is passed over to his chosen successor, who, in turn, is confronted with the dilemma of joining the family business or pursing an independent career outside NA Limited. Shedding light on the complexity of today’s family-run organizations, the case allows examining the effectiveness of strategic decision-making in an emerging market context by applying a variety of family business principles, theories and frameworks.

Expected learning outcomes

Discuss the sources of competitive advantage and the typical challenges that family firms face in the context of emerging markets. Perform a comprehensive corporate diagnosis and examine the specificities of strategic management process in family businesses. Assess the succession management practices in family-run organizations and design a profile of successful successor. Discuss the effectiveness of various corporate governance mechanisms in the context of family-owned enterprises. Evaluate the strategic choices of the top management team and offer recommendations for securing the family business longevity.

Supplementary materials

Teaching Notes are available for educators only. Please contact your library to gain login details or email to request teaching notes.

Subject code

CSS 11: Strategy.



Muhumed, Z., Bodolica, V. and Spraggon, M. (2017), "Inside an African family business estate: the founder’s legacy and the successor’s dilemma", Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies, Vol. 7 No. 3.

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