We study the unique governance dynamics surrounding family ownership in a voluntary regulatory arena where we can directly observe the impact of firm ownership on corporate governance practices pertaining to the composition of the board of directors. We find that family firms are more likely to deviate from standards of best practice in corporate governance. However, lesser governance standards in family firms are not associated with lower performance because the family shareholder is the monitor in-place. In contrast, governance practices and disclosures matter in widely-held firms because they alleviate the conflicts between managers and dispersed shareholders. More broadly, our results show that family ownership and board governance practices are substitute governance mechanisms.
Financial Markets Group Discussion Papers DP 710