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Determinants of boards in family firms: a systematic literature review

  • The significant heterogeneity among family firms has emerged as a commonly accepted paradigm in the research field. This systematic literature review establishes how the heterogeneity affects the board of directors, an institution that typically forms the most important pillar in the formal governance system of family businesses. As one of the first, the review provides an overview on the family-related factors that determine the board of directors’ tasks, composition, and processes. The systematic analysis, clustering, and synthesis of previous research yields six main determinants that are specific to the boards of family firms, namely generational stage, family culture, family power, family experience, CEO family stakes, and director kinship ties. From a methodological perspective, a heavy reliance on survey-based quantitative research can be observed in existing studies. For future research, I suggest a stronger focus on the dynamic evolution of the board over time, an integration of alternative theories in addition to agency theory, as well as the use of qualitative research strategies, such as case study research, to better understand the internal processes and evolution of family firm boards.

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Document Type:Working Paper
Author:Michael Baumann
Chairs and Professorships:Chair of Strategic Management and Digital Entrepreneurship
Year of Completion:2016
HHL Working Paper 156. Leipzig: HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, 2016