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Inside the Family Firm: The Role of Families in Succession Decisions and Performance

Author

Listed:
  • Morten Bennedsen

    (Copenhagen Business School)

  • Kasper Nielsen

    (University of Copenhagen)

  • Francisco Pérez-González

    (Columbia University)

  • Daniel Wolfenzon

    (New York University)

Abstract

This paper uses a unique dataset from Denmark to investigate (1) the role of family characteristics in corporate decision making, and (2) the consequences of these decisions on firm performance. We focus on the decision to appoint either a family or an external chief executive officer (CEO). We show that a departing CEO’s family characteristics have a strong predictive power in explaining CEO succession decisions: family CEOs are more frequently selected the larger the size of the family, the higher the ratio of male children and when the departing CEOs had only had one spouse. We then analyze the impact of family successions on performance. We overcome endogeneity and omitted variables problems of previous papers in the literature by using the gender of a departing CEO’s first-born child as an instrumental variable (IV) for family successions. This is a plausible IV as male first-child family firms are more likely to pass on control to a family CEO than female first-child firms, but the gender of the first child is unlikely to affect firms’ performance. We find that family successions have a dramatic negative causal impact on firm performance: profitability on assets falls by at least 6 percentage points around CEO transitions. These estimates are significantly larger than those obtained using ordinary least squares. Finally, our findings demonstrate that professional non-family CEOs provide extremely valuable services to the organizations they work for.

Suggested Citation

  • Morten Bennedsen & Kasper Nielsen & Francisco Pérez-González & Daniel Wolfenzon, 2005. "Inside the Family Firm: The Role of Families in Succession Decisions and Performance," CIE Discussion Papers 2005-13, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics, revised Sep 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuieci:2005-13
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/cie/dp/dp_2003-2006/2005-13.pdf/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Caselli & Nicola Gennaioli, 2013. "Dynastic Management," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 971-996, January.
    2. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408.
    3. Smith, Nina & Smith, Valdemar & Verner, Mette, 2005. "Do Women in Top Management Affect Firm Performance? A Panel Study of 2500 Danish Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 1708, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    family firms; successions; CEO turnover; governance;

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups

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