Journal of Business Ethics 148 (3):511-525 (2018)

This study investigates the engagement of family firms in corporate social responsibility. We first compare their corporate social performance to non-family firms. Then, following recent evidence on the heterogeneity of family firms, we examine two factors that may influence CSP within family firms: the level of family control and the governance orientation of the country in which they operate. This research is based on a theoretical framework which considers both agency and socioemotional wealth influences on family firms CSR engagements. Overall, we find that family firms exhibit lower CSP than non-family firms. But when focusing on family firms, our analyses show a curvilinear relationship between family control and CSP. At lower levels of control, family owners invest more in social initiatives to protect their SEW. Beyond a threshold level of control that we estimate at 36 % in our sample, economic considerations prevail over SEW and social performance starts decreasing. We also find that family firms operating in stakeholder-oriented countries are more attentive to social concerns than those operating in more shareholder-oriented countries.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-015-2982-9
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