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The characteristics of family firms: exploiting information on ownership, kinship, and governance using total population data

Author

Listed:
  • Fredrik W. Andersson

    () (Statistics Sweden)

  • Dan Johansson

    () (Örebro University School of Business
    HUI Research)

  • Johan Karlsson

    () (Örebro University School of Business)

  • Magnus Lodefalk

    () (Örebro University School of Business
    The Ratio Institute)

  • Andreas Poldahl

    () (Statistics Sweden)

Abstract

Abstract Family firms are often considered characteristically different from non-family firms. However, our understanding of family firms suffers from an inability to identify them in total population data; information is rarely available regarding owners, their kinship, and their involvement in firm governance. We present a method for identifying domiciled family firms using register data; this method offers greater accuracy than previous methods. We apply this method to Swedish data concerning firm ownership, governance, and kinship from 2004 to 2010. We find that the family firm is a significant organizational form, contributing over one third of all employment and gross domestic product (GDP). Family firms are common in most industries and range in size. Furthermore, we find that, compared to private non-family firms, family firms have fewer total assets, employment, and sales and carry higher solidity, although family firms are more profitable. These differences diminish with firm size. We conclude that the term “family firm” includes a large variety of firms, and we call for increased attention to their heterogeneity.

Suggested Citation

  • Fredrik W. Andersson & Dan Johansson & Johan Karlsson & Magnus Lodefalk & Andreas Poldahl, 2018. "The characteristics of family firms: exploiting information on ownership, kinship, and governance using total population data," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 539-556, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:51:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s11187-017-9947-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s11187-017-9947-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Johansson, Dan & Stenkula, Mikael & Wykman, Niklas, 2018. "The Rise of Private Foundations as Owners of Swedish Industry: The Role of Tax Incentives 1862–2018," Working Papers 2018:10, Örebro University, School of Business.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:14:p:3805-:d:247483 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Entrepreneur; Family firms; Employment; GDP; Register data;

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • L53 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Enterprise Policy

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