Edited by Panikklos Zata Poutziouris, Kosmas X. Smyrnios and Sabine B. Klein
Chapter 26: Board of Directors in Italian Public Family-Controlled Companies
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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