All in the family? CEO succession and firm organization

Working Paper
Published on 1 January 2018


Family firms are the most prevalent type of firm in the world and account for a large proportion of the economic activity and employment, especially in developing countries. We consider firms to be “family controlled” when the founding family owns over 25% of shares and the CEO is a family member. In this paper Lemos and Scur (2018) investigate the relationship between family control and firm organization and performance in the manufacturing sector of primarily emerging economies. To do this they collect a new detailed dataset of the succession history in terms of ownership (who owns the shares) as well as control (who is the CEO) for over 800 firms in Latin America, Africa and Europe. They merge this with a unique dataset on firm performance and organizational structures, including on quality of managerial practices. They exploit exogenous variation in the composition of the family CEO’s children, and use it as an instrumental variable for family ownership and control. Their results suggest that family-owned-and-controlled firms are worse managed, with coefficients being over twice larger under 2SLS than OLS. In general the negative link seems to stem from the family vs non-family control rather than simply family or non-family ownership. Firms owned by families but with non-family CEOs do not suffer from the deficit in management quality.


Renata Lemos

World Bank

Daniela Scur

Cornell University