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Family firms and investments

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  • Bianco, Madga
  • Golinelli, Roberto
  • Parigi, Giuseppe

Abstract

Family firms are a widespread control structure in most countries, especially among smaller firms. A vast literature addresses the question of whether they are performing better or worse than comparable non family firms, with not entirely conclusive results. Here we take a different, indirect approach and test whether investment decisions in family firms are more sensitive to uncertainty than in other firms. By using a novel dataset that includess both a better definition of family firms than commonly used (through self evaluation) and a very good proxy of the uncertainty on future demand that firms face, we are able to verify that – as compared to other firms – family firms are significantly more sensitive to uncertainty: this might contribute to explain why in some situations they perform better, whereas in others they do worse. We find evidence that this greater sensitivity to uncertainty in family firms is basically due to the effects of risk aversion and capital irreversibility, where the latter appear to be associated to a greater opaqueness of family firms rather than to the degree of sunkness of fixed capital. Finally, we propose some evidence that the prevalence of family firms in Italy might be associated to long standing institutional factors, such as an inefficient law enforcement system and a low social capital.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 19247.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19247

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Keywords: Family firms; investments; uncertainty; risk aversion; capital irreversibility;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Antonio Accetturo & Matteo Bugamelli & Andrea Lamorgese, 2012. "Welcome to the machine: firms' reaction to low-skilled immigration," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers), Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area 846, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  2. Houssam Bouzgarrou & Patrick Navatte, 2013. "Ownership structure and acquirers performance: Family vs. non-family firms," Post-Print halshs-00801736, HAL.
  3. Rebérioux, Antoine & Caroli, Eve & Breda, Thomas & Bassanini, Andrea, 2013. "Working in family firms : less paid but more secure ? Evidence from French matched employer-employee data," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/7244, Paris Dauphine University.
  4. Leandro DÂ’Aurizio & Livio Romano, 2013. "Family firms and the Great Recession: out of sight, out of mind?," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers), Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area 905, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  5. Matteo Bugamelli & Luigi Cannari & Francesca Lotti & Silvia Magri, 2012. "The innovation gap of Italy’s production system: roots and possible solutions," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 121, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.

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