Firms within Families
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Firms within Families

Enterprising in Diverse Country Contexts

Edited by Jennifer E. Jennings, Kimberly A. Eddleston, P. Devereaux Jennings and Ravi Sarathy

Firms within Families: Enterprising in Diverse Country Contexts investigates this ‘double embeddedness’ of business ownership and management through two illuminating sets of empirical studies. Part I focuses upon the family-oriented goal of socio-emotional wealth and its association with a firm’s strategic orientations, strategies and performance. Part II examines strategies and experiences at the work–family interface and their implications for an owner-manager’s psychological well-being. Both parts feature diverse studies from the United States, Switzerland/Germany, China, Brazil, and India.
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Chapter 3: The performance of Swiss and German family firms: investigating strategies, orientations and SEW as determinants

Philipp Sieger and Thomas Zellweger


In this chapter we center our attention on the performance drivers of family firms in Switzerland and Germany and compare the corresponding results with the findings generated in the US. Investigating family firms is justified as this organizational form not only constitutes the majority of all firms globally (Sharma and Carney, 2012), but in particular in Switzerland and Germany. In fact, more than 88 percent of all firms in Switzerland are defined as family firms (Frey, Halter, Klein, and Zellweger, 2004), and numbers for Germany are similar (Klein, 2000). While more than 99 percent of all companies in Switzerland are small and medium-sized (Frey et al., 2004), the share of family firms varies with firm size; more specifically, the share of family firms decreases with increasing firm size, which is in line with findings from Germany (Klein, 2000). The social and economic impact of family firms is remarkable. In Germany for instance, family controlled firms provide 60 percent of all jobs and account for 51 percent of the total sales of the German economy (cf. Even though the interest of both academics and practitioners in family firms has been rising significantly in recent years, the existing body of knowledge in the field is still rather fragmented (Sharma, 2004; Sharma and Carney, 2012).

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