Are family ownership and control in large firms good, bad, or irrelevant?
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Family ownership and control play an important role in large firms in Asia. There is a puzzle regarding the relationship between concentrated family ownership and control on the one hand and firm performance on the other hand. Three positions suggest that such concentration may be good, bad, or irrelevant for firm performance. This article reports two studies to shed further light on this puzzle. Study 1 uses 744 publicly listed large family firms in eight Asian countries (Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand) to test competing hypotheses on the impact of family ownership and control on firm performance. On a country-by-country basis, our findings support all three positions. On an aggregate, pooled sample basis, the results support the "irrelevant" position. Using 688 firms in the same eight countries, Study 2 endeavors to answer why Study 1 obtains different results for different countries. We theorize and document that Study 1 findings may be systematically associated with the level of (minority) shareholder protection afforded by legal and regulatory institutions. Study 2 thus provides critical insights on a cross-country, institution-based theory of corporate governance.
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