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This study examined the combined effect of family ownership and high-discretion organizational slack on the international involvement of Taiwanese firms. Employing a sample of 179 publicly listed high-tech firms in Taiwan over a period of 6 years (2000–2005), we found that firms with high levels of international involvement, that is, a higher degree of internationalization, (i) were not closely held, and (ii) were not excessively controlled by the family. Further, high-discretion organizational slack (indicated by resources that can be deployed in a flexible fashion such as in cash and receivables) moderated the negative relationship between family control and international involvement. This relationship is stronger with a higher level of high-discretion slack. The results support the hypothesis that family control and high-discretion organizational slack negatively influence the decision to internationalize.
Family business owners and researchers tend to overwhelmingly focus on the top-level structure of firms but ignore the middle-level practice – involving family members in the middle-management team. Compared to top managers at the strategic apex, middle-level managers are mainly responsible for internal operations and control, and the composition of the middle-management team has an immediate and direct impact on the overall workforce efficiency of family firms. Integrating agency theory and organizational justice perspective, we proposed that family involvement in middle management would have a negative impact on the labor productivity of family firms. We further corroborated this effect by identifying three boundary conditions at the individual (i.e., familial CEO), organizational (i.e., firm size), and regional (i.e., labor mobility) levels. Using a sample of 1,284 privately owned family firms in China, we found that family involvement in middle management, measured as the percentage of familial middle-level managers, was negatively associated with labor productivity. Furthermore, this negative relationship existed only when the CEO is a family member rather than a professional manager, when the size of the firm is large rather than small, or when the firm is located in regions with low rather than high labor mobility. These findings contribute to family business literature and provide practical implications for human resource management in family firms.
The principal–principal (PP) perspective of corporate governance shows that multiple large shareholder (MLS) structure has competing monitoring and entrenchment governance effects. We argue that the dominant effect depends on contest for control among large shareholders and the number of large shareholders involved. Using data from Chinese family listed companies from 2004 to 2007, this study shows inverse U-shaped relationships between contest for control and corporate market value, as measured by Tobin's Q, and between the number of large shareholders and corporate market value. Findings indicate that at low to medium levels of contest for control or number of large shareholders, formal institutions can strengthen MLS structure's monitoring effect and can help this effect last longer. As a whole, the findings extend the institution-based view in the context of family corporate governance by showing that formal institutions can shape the ability of MLS structure to exert governance.
Integrating theories of psychological ownership and stewardship, and taking a relational perspective, we examine key antecedents and outcomes of professional managers' psychological ownership in Chinese owner-managed family businesses. We tested the model using a survey of 166 Chinese professional managers (one from each of 166 family businesses). We find that owner–manager relationship closeness at work mediates the effect of both the owner's benevolent leadership and owner–manager friendship ties on the manager's psychological ownership. Psychological ownership, in turn, is positively related to the manager's intention to stay and to stewardship behaviour. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Using data from China's listed privately owned enterprises (POEs) during the period from 2002 to 2014, we explore the effects of firm life cycle on board structure. We find that the board size of China's listed POEs declines over firm life cycle, and there is a trend of separation for board chair-CEO duality while board independence remains almost static. We further provide evidence that board size and independence are determined by the benefits of monitoring and advisory roles of the boards through all the stages of firms’ life cycle with different drivers. The impact of CEO power on board chair-CEO duality is determined by the benefits and costs of separation of board chair, and CEOs are supported at all stages of firms’ life cycle. This article sheds light on the dynamic board structure in an emerging economy where the external corporate governance is weaker than that of developed countries. Our findings suggest that the board structures of China's listed POEs are adjusted at various stages of firms’ life cycle, and the adjustments are mostly based on the resources brought by the new board of directors.
This study investigates how CEO behavior and incentives change during the CEO's final years in office, known as the horizon problem. We examine how the horizon problem alters managerial slack, a measure of operational inefficiency and managerial value diversion. Using data on Chinese publicly traded firms between 2003 and 2011, we find that managerial slack increases in the last two years of CEO tenure compared to earlier years. We also show that the increase in managerial slack in CEO final years in office is smaller in privately controlled firms than in state-owned enterprises, smaller in firms with CEO equity ownership and more independent boards compared to those without. We conclude that higher quality corporate governance mechanisms ameliorate the perverse incentives associated with the CEO horizon problem, and reduce CEOs’ tendency to increase managerial slack during their final years in office.
This paper applies Dunning's eclectic paradigm of Ownership, Location and Internalization (OLI) advantages to the international activity and performance dynamics of the Chinese family enterprise (CFE). Through the lens of Dunning's paradigm, we trace the role of cultural and economic factors in the success of this important form of organization. In demonstrating the relevance of a theory that originated in the analysis of Western multinational firms to this indigenous Chinese type of firm, the paper supports the larger effort to expand the scope of received theory to include Chinese as well as other non-Western forms of organization.
This introduction traces the disappearance of Chinese family businesses from 1949 to 1978, their revival since then, and their future challenges. It then summarizes the three papers included in this Special Issue and proposes an agenda for family business studies in China. The article first focuses on the nonmarket social and political network strategies that these family-centered business organizations have had to adopt in order to overcome the difficulties they faced in accessing opportunities and resources as a result of Chinese culture's traditional low esteem for merchants and the government's continuing preference for a state-dominated economy. Family firms have so far been able to grow disproportionately rapidly in China's economy because, by leveraging the shared interests and dedication of immediate and extended family members, they have been able to achieve lower cost and higher efficiency, respond quickly to market changes, and expand social and political networks. These nonmarket strategies, however, also have a dark side. Furthermore, as the liberalization of China's economy deepens, competition must rely critically on market strategies such as innovation, alliances, and internationalization. The proposed research agenda addresses these future challenges as well as some research questions unique to Chinese family businesses.
Loan guarantees to related parties by affiliated subsidiaries within family controlled pyramids form a means by which the controlling family expropriates value from minority shareholders. The controlling family, however, will attempt to escape blame for the behavior. Using a sample of 1785 listed Chinese firms affiliated with family-controlled business groups, we explore how family governance structure affects the use of related party loan guarantees. As hypothesized, we find that affiliates with non-family chairmen, but with family directors or senior executives, issue larger volumes of loan guarantees to related parties, whereas affiliates with family chairmen and those with non-family interlocking chairmen do not. The behavior is moderated by regional institutional development.
Drawing on expectancy theory and the socioemotional wealth (SEW) perspective, we propose that family owners with intrafamily succession intention are more motivated to accumulate or preserve SEW. As corporate philanthropy is a critical way for family-controlled firms to accumulate or maintain SEW, family owners with intrafamily succession intention are more likely to engage in corporate philanthropic activities. Data on a nationally representative sample of family-controlled firms in China support our prediction. We also find that the relationship between intrafamily succession intention and corporate philanthropy is moderated by family owners’ social status and religiosity. The findings contribute to our understanding about family businesses, in general, and those in China, in particular, as well as the SEW perspective.
This study investigates the differential effects of internationalization on two dimensions of family firms’ performance: growth and profitability. Drawing on the contingency theory, we argue that the successful implementation of internationalization strategy requires an appropriate organization structure, which is usually absent in Chinese family firms. To the extent that such a structure is established, these firms can realize greater benefits from internationalization. From a sample of 225 family firms in China, our predictions receive empirical support. We find that internationalization has a positive impact on growth but a negative impact on profitability. The negative internationalization–firm profitability relationship highlights the challenges internationalizing Chinese family firms face. The positive moderating effect of corporate governance, a critical component of organization structure, underscores the need for appropriate corporate governance to support the implementation of strategy. The findings have important practical implications for the internationalization of Chinese family firms.