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Family Firms, Paternalism, and Labor Relations

  • Holger M. Mueller
  • Thomas Philippon

Using firm-, industry-, and country-level data, we document a link between family ownership and labor relations. Across countries, we find that family ownership is relatively more prevalent in countries in which labor relations are difficult, consistent with firm-level evidence suggesting that family firms are particularly effective at coping with difficult labor relations. Our cross-country results are robust to controlling for minority shareholder protection and various other potential determinants of family ownership. Our results also hold if we use strike data from the 1960s to predict cross-country variation in family ownership thirty years later. We address causality in two ways. First, we instrument our measure of the quality of labor relations using 'Labor Origin', a variable describing the extent to which the emerging European liberal states in the 18th and 19th centuries confronted guilds and labor organizations. Second, making use of within-country variation at the industry level, we show that - controlling for industry and country fixed effects - industries that are more labor dependent have relatively more family ownership in countries with worse labor relations.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12739.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Publication status: published as Mueller, Holger and Thomas Philippn. "Family Firms and Labor Relations." American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 3 (2001): 218-245.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12739
Note: CF LS
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  1. Mike Burkart & Fausto Panunzi & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Family Firms," NBER Working Papers 8776, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Mike Burkart & Fausto Panunzi & Andrei Shleifer, 2003. "Family Firms," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(5), pages 2167-2202, October.
  2. Randall K. Morck & David A. Strangeland & Bernard Yeung, 1998. "Inherited Wealth, Corporate Control and Economic Growth," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 209, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
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  4. Sraer, David & Thesmar, David, 2004. "Performance and Behaviour of Family Firms: Evidence from the French Stock Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 4520, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Trust in Large Organizations," NBER Working Papers 5864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "Corporate Ownership Around the World," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1840, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  11. Pagano, Marco & Volpin, Paolo, 2001. "The Political Economy of Corporate Governance," CEPR Discussion Papers 2682, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Financial Dependence and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 559-86, June.
  13. Demsetz, Harold & Lehn, Kenneth, 1985. "The Structure of Corporate Ownership: Causes and Consequences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1155-77, December.
  14. Krishna B. Kumar & John G. Matsusaka, 2004. "Village versus Market Social Capital: An Approach to Development," Development and Comp Systems 0408003, EconWPA.
  15. Raymond Fisman & Inessa Love, 2004. "Financial Development and Intersectoral Allocation: A New Approach," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(6), pages 2785-2807, December.
  16. Raymond Fisman, 2001. "Estimating the Value of Political Connections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1095-1102, September.
  17. Faccio, Mara & Lang, Larry H. P., 2002. "The ultimate ownership of Western European corporations," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 365-395, September.
  18. Olivier Blanchard & Thomas Philippon, 2004. "The Quality of Labor Relations and Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 10590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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