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Performance and Behavior of Family Firms: Evidence from the French Stock Market

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Listed:
  • David Sraer
  • David Thesmar

Abstract

This paper empirically documents the performance and behavior of family firms listed on the French stock exchange between 1994 and 2000. On the French stock market, approximately one third of the firms are widely held, whereas the remaining two thirds are family firms. We find that, in the cross-section, family firms largely outperform widely held corporations. This result holds for founder-controlled firms, professionally managed family firms, but more surprisingly also for firms run by descendants of the founder. We offer explanations for the good performance of family firms. First, we present evidence of a more efficient use of labor in heir-managed firms. These firms pay lower wages, even allowing for skill and age structure. We also find that descendants smooth out industry shocks and manage to honor implicit labor contracts. Second, we present evidence consistent with outside CEOs in family firms making a more parsimonious use of capital. They employ more unskilled, cheap labor, use less capital, pay lower interest rates on debt and initiate more profitable acquisitions. (JEL: G32, L25, J31) (c) 2007 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • David Sraer & David Thesmar, 2007. "Performance and Behavior of Family Firms: Evidence from the French Stock Market," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(4), pages 709-751, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:5:y:2007:i:4:p:709-751
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-329, May.
    2. Ronald C. Anderson & David M. Reeb, 2003. "Founding‐Family Ownership and Firm Performance: Evidence from the S&P 500," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(3), pages 1301-1328, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm

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