Family, Wealth, and Governance: An Agency Account
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice
Family firms often evolve into ownership constellations with multiple family owners. Building on agency theory, we argue that the growing complexity within a group of family blockholders gives rise to what we label family blockholder conflicts, defined as conflicts within a group of family owners. To curb family blockholder conflicts, families often separate the family from its assets and install intermediary governance structures. We explore four frequently applied structures (uncoordinated family, embedded family office, single family office, and family trust), which vary in their degree of separation between family owners and assets and consequently the extent to which the firm might incur family blockholder costs and the double-agency costs associated with appointing agents to oversee agents. We conclude with a discussion of the distributive effects of the four family governance constellations for family wealth over time.
family blockholder conflicts
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