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Family Firms and Social Responsibility: Preliminary Evidence from the S&P 500


W. Gibb Dyer, Jr., tel.: (801) 422-2666; e-mail:


Little is known about the impact of family ownership and management on corporate social performance. Some scholars have suggested that family firms are not likely to act in a socially responsible manner, while others have indicated that socially responsible behavior on the part of the family firm protects the family's assets. This preliminary study compares the degree to which family and nonfamily firms are socially responsible using data from 1991 to 2000 from the S&P 500. Two hundred sixty-one firms (202 nonfamily and 59 family) appeared in the S&P 500 for the 10-year period. Findings show that family firms are more socially responsible than nonfamily firms along several dimensions. This is likely due to family concern about image and reputation and a desire to protect family assets.