Agency Conflicts, Socioemotional Wealth, and the Debt Maturity Structure of Family Firms: A Critical Analysis

  •  Oscar Domenichelli    


This paper aims to study the impact of the distinctive agency and socioemotional features of family firms on their debt maturity choices using a literature analysis of this topic, still substantially unexplored. Therefore, the paper examines the relationships between owners and managers; majority and minority shareholders, and family shareholders and family outsiders; and owners and creditors. The analysis suggests that the propensity of family businesses to use long-term debt depends on the generation leading the family firm, family blockholders, motivation for expropriating minority shareholders, family outsiders and their socioemotional orientation. Much still remains to be empirically studied. One interesting issue to explore further would be the influence of country-specific factors worldwide, in combination with firm-specific characteristics relating to agency conflicts and socioemotional wealth, on the debt maturity decisions of family firms, compared to non-family ones. Given the international importance of family firms, and their widespread presence and activity worldwide, additional empirical results on this topic may help governments adopt specific policies, that will better support family businesses, in light of their peculiar and unique economic and non-economic aspects.

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