Handbook of Research on Family Business
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Handbook of Research on Family Business

Edited by Panikklos Zata Poutziouris, Kosmas X. Smyrnios and Sabine B. Klein

The Handbook of Research on Family Business provides a comprehensive first port of call for those wishing to survey progress in the theory and practice of family business research. In response to the extensive growth of family business as a topic of academic inquiry, the principal objective of the Handbook is to provide an authoritative and scholarly overview of current thinking in this multidisciplinary field.
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Chapter 26: Board of Directors in Italian Public Family-Controlled Companies

Guido Corbetta and Alessandro Minichilli


27 Family-firm relationships in Italian SMEs: ownership and governance issues in a double-fold theoretical perspective Luca Gnan and Daniela Montemerlo This chapter offers a comparative study of family versus non-family small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) in terms of ownership and governance issues, and is based on a survey on 620 incorporated companies of small and medium size. The survey was started in 2000 and was aimed at making an in-depth exploration of Italian small and medium-sized enterprises, with a special focus on family firms. Previous surveys had already analysed family small and medium-sized enterprises in Italy (Corbetta and Montemerlo, 1999); this survey intended to update some information and to go deeper into some issues, particularly into ownership and governance in terms of both structure and evolution. Another goal of the survey was to make some preliminary tests of different theoretical perspectives. On one side, we wanted to verify whether agency theory assumptions may apply to small and medium-sized enterprises and not only to large corporations; on the other side, we maintain that agency is a relevant perspective by which to interpret family small and medium-sized enterprises, but that it is not sufficient and should be integrated with a relational perspective. The main findings we obtained confirmed, even at an exploratory level, that both perspectives are relevant. Family small and medium-sized enterprises are becoming more complex, especially in terms of ownership, which is increasingly fragmented. Fragmentation typically brings about differentiation between managing and non-managing owners,...

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