Tatwamasi Thursdays- Rivalry between Siblings

There is an interesting story of siblings dividing their roles at a Chennai based firm- an auto dealership. Sibling rivalry was never a significant problem in the business, but divisions were made partly for precautionary reasons and also because they made commercial sense. The company was founded in the 1960’s, initially as a grain trader and then as an auto dealership by Khivraj Chordia who passed it down to his sons, Devraj and Navratanmal. They worked together for a while and in 1987-89 it was decided to implement a partition scheme under which Devraj took over the dealership business in Bengaluru and Navratanmal the parallel operation in Chennai. In the third generation, Navratanmal’s sons, Ajit and Bharat Chordia, managed the Chennai operation together, until one day a consultant pointed out that both brothers had the same job descriptions and were duplicating work. So another division of responsibilities was initiated, this time in a form of a diversification into real estate. Today, Bharat Chordia looks after the auto dealership business and has an equal stake in his brother, Ajit’s real estate company, and vice versa. The brothers follow a system of cross-contribution at a strategic level but exercise independent operational control.

If sibling rivalry does threaten to affect a family business, it helps if remuneration and job titles are defined in advance according to objective criteria. This will reduce the emotional repercussions if one sibling performs better and achieves more than another he problems, thus making it easier both to analyse what is going on and to begin thinking more clearly about ways of coping. `


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