The Resilient Family Firm: Stakeholder Outcomes and Institutional Effects

M. van Essen, Vanessa M. Strike, M. Carney, S. Sapp

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Manuscript Type


    Research Question/Issue

    Our study seeks to explain the relationship between publicly listed family-controlled firms (FCFs) and investor and employee outcomes before and during the global financial crisis. Theoretically, we develop hypotheses suggesting that FCF resilience is beneficial to both investor and employees. Employing a large firm-level data set of 2,949 firms across 27 European countries, we test the hypotheses that FCFs' long-term orientation makes them resilient to the effects of economic shocks. In addition, using hierarchical linear modeling we evaluate family firm investor and employee outcomes, and the moderating impact of legal institutions protecting minority investors and employees.

    Research Findings/Insights

    We find that FCFs financially outperform non-FCFs during the financial crisis, beginning in 2007 and reaching its lowest point in 2009, but show no significant differences during the stable-growth period between 2004 and 2006. We evaluate two employee outcomes: downsizing and wage decreases. We find that FCFs are less likely to downsize their workforce or cut wages in both pre-crisis and crisis conditions. Based upon hypotheses founded in the comparative capitalisms logic, we find significant institutional effects that are contrary to our predictions. Our findings suggest that investors and employees of FCFs achieve more favorable outcomes for their interests when the rules pertaining to investor protection and their enforcement are poorly developed.

    Theoretical/Academic Implications

    We contribute to the emerging literature on the institution-based view of comparative corporate governance by demonstrating that family-controlled firms' stakeholder outcomes are contingent upon legal protection for employees and investors under contrasting economic circumstances.

    Practitioner/Policy Implications

    Family owners, employees and minority investors should consider both firm-level and country-level governance institutions when investing in different countries, especially in times of economic crisis as jurisdiction-level institutions and firm ownership choices produce variable outcomes for different stakeholders in both crisis and non-crisis conditions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-185
    JournalCorporate Governance: An International Review
    Issue number3
    Early online date10 Oct 2014
    Publication statusPublished - May 2015


    • Corporate Governance
    • Family-Controlled Firms
    • Financial Crisis
    • Stakeholder Outcomes
    • Resilience


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