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Altruism and Agency in the Family Firm: Exploring the Role of Family, Kinship, and Ethnicity


Nelson Phillips, tel.: +44-20-7584-1699; e-mail:


This article examines the relationship between altruism and agency costs in family business through an in-depth case study of a family firm. We found that altruism reduced agency costs in the early stages of the business, but that agency problems increased as the venture became larger and more established. Moreover, we suggest that altruistic behavior need not be confined to family and close kin, but may extend through networks of distant kin and ethnic ties. We thus present a more complex view of the agency relationship in family business than is often portrayed in the existing literature.

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