Even today, bloodlines are important, particularly in markets where people cannot rely on governance structures to build trust between trading partners. Our report on global ethnic networks reveals the astonishing success of the Chinese in south-east Asia, many of whom originated from the non Mandarin-speaking south.
Figures from the late 1990s indicate that this minority group, representing just 6% of the region's population, owned some 60% of its private corporate wealth. Most of south-east Asia's billionaires also come from the same ethnic Chinese groups and were the first to secure a foothold in the Chinese market.
Showing an interest in the family background of new business contacts is more than mere politeness; it could also be a guide to commercial power in certain markets.
In recent months big business has started to turn green. The climate change debate has moved on and now international companies are proving they take the threat seriously.
This month World Business is calling for entries to its new Green Business Awards, which will recognise those companies leading the way in this crucial area. The winners will be announced on 29 November 2007. Our energy report looks at some leading green companies and examines the options for renewable energy sources.