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Enterprise and Leadership

Studies on Firms, Markets and Networks

Mark Casson

This book offers a broader perspective and important practical insights into economic institutions, focusing on dynamic issues such as entrepreneurship and ethical leadership, which are crucial to institutional growth. Extending the work of his previous books, The Entrepreneur and The Economics of Business Culture, Mark Casson analyses economic institutions from an integrated social science perspective.
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Chapter 8: The Family Firm: An Analysis of the Dynastic Motive

Mark Casson


8. The family firm: an analysis of the dynastic motive 8.1 INTRODUCTION The advantages of an integrated social scientific approach to the analysis of institutions are particularly evident in the case of the family firm. Although the family firm has long been an important feature of business enterprise, the concept is rarely defined in a rigorous manner, and until very recently it has never been modelled in a formal way. Indeed, considering the long-standing historical importance of the family firm in economies at every stage of development, there is surprisingly little economic literature on the subject. Most of the literature is written from a purely managerial or organizational perspective (see, for example, Berkhard and Dyer, 1983; Gersik et al., 1997; and Levinson, 1971). Economists tend to identify family firms with small and medium-size enterprises. This confounds the implications of size with the implications of family ownership and control, and wrongly suggests that all family firms are small. Despite the ‘managerial revolution’ of the twentieth century, many large firms remain family owned (Jones and Rose, 1993). This chapter attempts to remedy some of these deficiencies in the economics literature. The chapter is structured in three parts. The first part (Sections 8.2–8.5) scrutinizes the concept of the family firm, and shows how popular preconceptions about it are often the product of ambiguous definitions. The second part (Sections 8.6–8.8) compares and contrasts the perspectives of institutional economics and neoclassical economics upon the family firm. It is shown...

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