Family ownership is relatively common among publicly listed firms in different countries. Indeed, many companies around the world are controlled by large shareholders, usually individuals or their families. In fact, La Porta et al. (1999) document that family control is the most widespread organizational structure, except in countries where there is strong protection of minority shareholders. In the USA, more than one-third of S & P 500 corporations can be classified as family controlled (Anderson and Reeb, 2003). In East Asia, a small number of families control firms that make up a large percentage of the stock markets (Claessens et al., 2000). For Western Europe, Faccio and Lang (2002) document that more than 44 per cent of listed companies are family controlled. There are various forms and combinations of ownership. There may be just a single large shareholder, more than one, or none. For instance, Laeven and Levine (2008) suggest for Western economies that more than 40 per cent of public firms with one large shareholder also have two or more other shareholders who own more than 10 per cent of the shares. This is also the case for family firms (especially those that are listed). They frequently have large shareholders – families – and several minority shareholders, or families plus other significant large shareholders and minority shareholders.
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