Handbook of Research on Family Business, Second Edition
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Handbook of Research on Family Business, Second Edition

Edited by Kosmas X. Smyrnios, Panikkos Z. Poutziouris and Sanjay Goel

During the previous decade, the multi-disciplinary field of family business has advanced significantly in terms of advances in theory, development of sophisticated empirical instruments, systematic measurement of family business activity, use of alternative research methodologies and deployment of robust tools of analysis. This second edition of the Handbook of Research on Family Business presents important research and conceptual developments across a broad range of topics. The contributors – notable researchers in the field – explore the frontiers of knowledge in family business entrepreneurship and stimulate critical thinking, enriching the repository of theoretical frameworks and methodologies.
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Chapter 4: Analysis of social performance and board of directors in family firms: evidence from quoted Italian companies

Patricia Bachiller, Maria-Cleofe Giorgino and Sergio Paternostro


In literature, the firm is defined as a three-dimensional organism (Catturi, 2003). In addition to the economic dimension related to the ownership’s interest, other aspects such as the social and the sociopolitical are relevant. They are respectively internal and external to the firm. According to this view, firm performance is also a multidimensional concept, as it includes a financial aspect (related to the economic dimension of the firm) and a social aspect (related to the other two dimensions). Although performance is usually structured in a hierarchical way with more attention to its financial dimension (main objective of the firm), a complete analysis of the firm performance requires considering its social aspect. Providing a definition of the so-called ‘corporate social performance’ (CSP) is not easy. According to Wood (2010, p. 51), CSP ‘concerns the harm and benefits that result from a business organization’s interactions with its larger environment, including the social, cultural, legal, political, economic and natural dimensions’. In this context, we aim to analyse the CSP topic referring in particular to a specific type of firm that assumes particular relevance for the significant role it plays in the economic system: the family firm. In the Italian context, family firms assume in fact great importance in terms of GDP produced (80 per cent), number of firms (90 per cent) and job creation (75 per cent) (Zocchi, 2004). They have specific characteristics deriving from the strong link existing between family and firm.

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