Capital Structure Decisions in Family Firms - Empirical Evidence from a Bank-Based Economy
Review of Managerial Science, Forthcoming
33 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2009 Last revised: 21 Feb 2013
Date Written: October 2011
This paper analyzes the question if and how founding families influence the capital structure decision of their firms. By using a unique, partially hand-collected panel dataset of 660 listed German companies (5,135 firm years) over the period 1995 to 2006, we come up with the following results: German family firms have significantly lower leverage ratios than non-family firms. With respect to the question how families influence the capital structure of their firms, we can show that the family impact is mostly driven via management involvement. In this context, we also detect that the presence of a founder CEO has a strong negative effect on the leverage ratio.
Our results prove to be stable against a battery of robustness tests, including the influence of other types of blockholders and the firms’ life cycle. Moreover, we use a propensity-score based matching estimator to alleviate concerns of reverse causality. Overall, our study suggests a strong, negative and causal relationship between family firm characteristics (especially family management) and the level of leverage.
Keywords: family firms, capital structure, leverage, agency conflicts
JEL Classification: G32, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation