Delineating Publicly Listed Family and Nonfamily Controlled Firms: An Approach for Capital Market Research in Australia*


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    The authors gratefully acknowledge the considerable efforts undertaken by Ms. Oraluck Arsiraphongphisit and Mr. Eddie Chow, both postgraduate students at Monash University, in collecting an enormous volume of raw data for this project. We would also like to thank the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC), in particular Messrs Richard Cockburn and Mark Lisieski, together with the dedicated staff of the ASIC Business Information Centre (Melbourne) for their valuable support and patience during our many visits to their offices. Associate Professor Christine Jubb is also thanked for her review and contribution to this paper, and Professor Gary Monroe and Dr. Daniel McConaughy are also gratefully acknowledged for their insightful comments.

Nicholas Mroczkowski, John Street Hawthorn, Vic. 3122, Australia. Tel: 613 9214 5316. E-mail:


Recent capital market research evidence suggests that a large proportion of public companies worldwide are characterized by controlling stockholders who are more often families, usually the founder(s) or their descendants. There has been considerable debate on whether “family” firms can indeed be accurately delineated from nonfamily firms given the diversity and abundance of family business definitions in the literature. This paper provides a robust definition of family business for the purposes of capital market research. Using an accounting-based definition of family business, the paper outlines a four-step procedure that provides validation for identifying family controlled companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. A significant feature of the research methodology was reliance on data collected from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Having access to the corporate regulator's restricted data enabled the researchers to establish important links between directors and their private related entities.