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Attracting talent to family-owned businesses: The perceptions of MBA students


  • Ceja, Lucia

    (IESE Business School)

  • Tapies, Josep

    () (IESE Business School)


This paper examines the perceptions that MBA students hold regarding family-owned businesses compared to non-family firms. The study is based on the assumption that attracting talent is critical not only for continuous competitive advantage, but also for the survival of family-owned businesses. Therefore, family-owned firms should promote themselves as equally attractive as non-family organizations in terms of employment opportunities. MBA graduates represent a rich pool of talent that can help family-owned firms to prosper across generations. One avenue of inquiry in this regard is to study MBA students and their perceptions. Consequently, studying whether MBA students hold a specific image regarding family-owned businesses is brought to the forefront. With this aim, the authors engaged in an enquiry process, dealing with MBA students' perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of family-owned firms compared to non-family businesses. The sample was composed of 213 MBA students from 20 different countries. The results showed that MBA students do indeed hold a particular image regarding family-owned firms. More specifically, some of the findings are that MBA students perceive family-owned firms as having more problems within the ownership than non-family businesses, are not as good as non-family firms in attracting talented managers, have less job rotation, are slower in their internationalization processes, are slower in the implementation of new technologies, have more difficulty in issuing equity and have a later retirement age than non-family firms. Limitations of the study and future research are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Ceja, Lucia & Tapies, Josep, 2009. "Attracting talent to family-owned businesses: The perceptions of MBA students," IESE Research Papers D/815, IESE Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0815

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harvey James, 1999. "Owner as Manager, Extended Horizons and the Family Firm," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 41-55.
    2. 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.
    3. Danny Miller & Isabelle Le Breton-Miller & Barry Scholnick, 2008. "Stewardship vs. Stagnation: An Empirical Comparison of Small Family and Non-Family Businesses," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(1), pages 51-78, January.
    4. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    5. Jeremy C. Stein, 1989. "Efficient Capital Markets, Inefficient Firms: A Model of Myopic Corporate Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(4), pages 655-669.
    6. Saito, Takuji, 2008. "Family firms and firm performance: Evidence from Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 620-646, December.
    7. Eddleston, Kimberly A. & Kellermanns, Franz W., 2007. "Destructive and productive family relationships: A stewardship theory perspective," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 545-565, July.
    8. Howorth, Carole & Westhead, Paul & Wright, Mike, 2004. "Buyouts, information asymmetry and the family management dyad," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 509-534, July.
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    family-owned businesses; non-family firms; MBA students; talent; perceptions;

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