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Blood in the boardroom: Family relationships influencing the functions of the board


  • Collin, Sven-Olof Yrjö
  • Ahlberg, Jenny


The board of directors at the family firm is often dominated by family members. While research has acknowledged the presence of the family, it has neglected the actual family composition of the board and the effects it has on the board's activities. We study the family composition of the board through using insights from evolutionary psychology, stressing genetic kinship. We present a model where the contingency of genetic relationships of the family directors influences the functional emphasis of the family firm's board. Testing the hypotheses on a convenience sample of 68 small and medium-sized Swedish family firms, we find indications of genetic kinship influencing the functions of the board. We suggest the development of the family conception along these lines, where the importance of kinship ties and characteristics of nepotism are explored. The practical implication is a recommendation for families to have a conscious strategy to manage nepotism.

Suggested Citation

  • Collin, Sven-Olof Yrjö & Ahlberg, Jenny, 2012. "Blood in the boardroom: Family relationships influencing the functions of the board," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 207-219.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:fambus:v:3:y:2012:i:4:p:207-219 DOI: 10.1016/j.jfbs.2012.11.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael H. Lubatkin & Yan Ling & William S. Schulze, 2007. "An Organizational Justice-Based View of Self-Control and Agency Costs in Family Firms," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(6), pages 955-971, September.
    2. Yannick Bammens & Wim Voordeckers & Anita Gils, 2008. "Boards of directors in family firms: a generational perspective," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 163-180, August.
    3. Woods, Jeremy A. & Dalziel, Thomas & Barton, Sidney L., 2012. "Escalation of commitment in private family businesses: The influence of outside board members," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 18-27.
    4. Jeroen van den Heuvel & Anita Van Gils & Wim Voordeckers, 2006. "Board Roles in Small and Medium-Sized Family Businesses: performance and importance," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(5), pages 467-485, September.
    5. Jonas Gabrielsson & Henrik Winlund, 2000. "Boards of directors in small and medium-sized industrial firms: examining the effects of the board's working style on board task performance," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 311-330, October.
    6. William S. Schulze & Michael H. Lubatkin & Richard N. Dino, 2002. "Altruism, agency, and the competitiveness of family firms," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(4-5), pages 247-259.
    7. Karin Jonnergård & Anna Stafsudd, 2011. "The making of active boards in Swedish public companies," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 15(1), pages 123-155, February.
    8. Sven-Olof Collin, 2007. "Governance strategy: a property right approach turning governance into action," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 11(3), pages 215-237, September.
    9. Jaskiewicz, Peter & Klein, Sabine, 2007. "The impact of goal alignment on board composition and board size in family businesses," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(10), pages 1080-1089, October.
    10. Lubatkin, Michael H. & Durand, Rodolphe & Ling, Yan, 2007. "The missing lens in family firm governance theory: A self-other typology of parental altruism," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(10), pages 1022-1029, October.
    11. Arosa, Blanca & Iturralde, Txomin & Maseda, Amaia, 2010. "Outsiders on the board of directors and firm performance: Evidence from Spanish non-listed family firms," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 236-245, December.
    12. Schulze, William S. & Lubatkin, Michael H. & Dino, Richard N., 2003. "Toward a theory of agency and altruism in family firms," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 473-490, July.
    13. Webb, Justin W. & Ketchen Jr., David J. & Ireland, R. Duane, 2010. "Strategic entrepreneurship within family-controlled firms: Opportunities and challenges," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 67-77, June.
    14. Basco, Rodrigo & Pérez Rodríguez, María José, 2011. "Ideal types of family business management: Horizontal fit between family and business decisions and the relationship with family business performance," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 151-165.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stoilkovska, Aleksandra & Milenkovska , Violeta & Serafimovic , Gordana, 2013. "The Influence Of Family Relations On Decision Making In Family Businesses," UTMS Journal of Economics, University of Tourism and Management, Skopje, Macedonia, vol. 4(1), pages 17-26.
    2. Corten, Maarten & Steijvers, Tensie & Lybaert, Nadine, 2017. "The effect of intrafamily agency conflicts on audit demand in private family firms: The moderating role of the board of directors," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 13-28.
    3. Vandebeek, Alana & Voordeckers, Wim & Lambrechts, Frank & Huybrechts, Jolien, 2016. "Board role performance and faultlines in family firms: The moderating role of formal board evaluation," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 249-259.


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