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Dividend and debt policies of family controlled firms: The impact of board independence

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  • Lukas Setia-Atmaja

Abstract

Purpose - This paper's aim is to examine whether board independence influences debt and dividend policies of family controlled firms. Design/methodology/approach - The paper examines panel data on a sample of Australian publicly-listed firms over the period 2000-2005 using panel (random effects) regression. Findings - Empirical test demonstrates that family controlled firms appear to have higher levels of leverage and dividend payout ratios than their non-family counterparts. More importantly, the result indicates that the positive impact of family control on dividend policy is due to the higher proportion of independent directors on family boards. This underlines the significant role that independent directors play in influencing firm's dividend policies, especially for family controlled firms. The result also supports the notion that independent directors and dividends are complementary government mechanisms. This paper, however, finds little evidence that board independence moderates the relationship between family control and debt. Research limitations/implications - While not all family firms are the same, this research treats them as a homogeneous grouping (i.e. firms are delineated into family versus non-family). The fact that family firms are difficult to identify and define (reflected in the diversity of definitions in the literature) may also affect the validity of studies of family business. For policy makers, the finding could serve to justify initiatives to encourage more independent directors on boards, especially in family controlled firms. Originality/value - This paper provides evidence about the relationship between board independence, dividends and debt from a country with higher levels of private benefits of control, strong legal shareholder protection but less significant role of external governance mechanisms compared to the USA.

Suggested Citation

  • Lukas Setia-Atmaja, 2010. "Dividend and debt policies of family controlled firms: The impact of board independence," International Journal of Managerial Finance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 6(2), pages 128-142, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmfpp:v:6:y:2010:i:2:p:128-142
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Villalonga, Belen & Amit, Raphael, 2006. "How do family ownership, control and management affect firm value?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 385-417, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elisabete F. Simões Vieira, 2016. "Earnings Management in Public Family Firms under Economic Adversity," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 26(2), pages 190-207, June.
    2. Rahimah Mohamed Yunos Author_Email: rahim221@johor.uitm.edu.my & Malcolm Smith & Zubaidah Ismail & Syahrul Ahmar Ahmad, 2011. "Inside Concentrated Owners, Board Of Directors And Accounting Conservatism," Annual Summit on Business and Entrepreneurial Studies (ASBES 2011) Proceeding 2011-053-178, Conference Master Resources.
    3. Santiago Lago-Peñas & Mercedes Mareque Álvarez-Santullano & Elena Rivo-López & Mónica Villanueva-Villar, 2017. "Determining factors for audit opinion in private family and non-family firms. Evidence from Spain," Working Papers. Collection C: Family business 1701, Universidade de Vigo, GEN - Governance and Economics research Network.
    4. Lo, Huai-Chun & Ting, Irene Wei Kiong & Kweh, Qian Long & Yang, Ming Jing, 2016. "Nonlinear association between ownership concentration and leverage: The role of family control," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 113-123.
    5. Berezinets, I. & Ilina, Y. & Alekseeva, L., 2014. "Ownership structure and dividend policy: A study of Russian public companies with dual class shares," Working Papers 6384, Graduate School of Management, St. Petersburg State University.

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    Keywords

    Directors; Dividends; Australia; Family firms;

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