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The board of directors in family firms - one size fits forever?

  • One decade after the publication of Corbetta and Salvato (2004), we develop an extension of the contingency approach to the boards of directors of family firms. We argue that the diverging interests among family members are not sufficiently represented in existing contingency factors, and the existing static perspective on boards fails to emphasize the need for board adaptation over time. Consequently, we develop an extended conceptual model of the relationships between ownership stages, contingency factors, and board task needs of family firms. Our propositions highlight a need for board adaptations to ownership stages and recognition of the importance of individual family member interests. Particularly, our theoretical considerations show that controlling owners have a strong need for board advice while the transition to a sibling partnership and cousin consortium gradually push the need for controlling and mediating activities to the forefront. The iolvement of non-family managers is likely to moderate this development. Referring back to the initial contingency model, we propose that not only is one board unlikely to fit all family firms, but one board cannot be expected to fit the entire life-span of a family firm.

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Document Type:Working Paper
Author:Michael Baumann, Stephan Stubner
Chairs and Professorships:Chair of Strategic Management and Digital Entrepreneurship
Year of Completion:2016
HHL Working Paper 158. Leipzig: HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, 2016