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Do Family Firms Have Better Reputations Than Non-Family Firms? An Integration of Socioemotional Wealth and Social Identity Theories


Address for reprints: David L. Deephouse, Department of Strategic Management and Organization, University of Alberta, 3–23 Business Building, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2R6 (


We draw from socioemotional wealth and social identity research to develop a theory on reputational differences among family and non-family firms. We propose that family members identify more strongly with their family firm than non-family members do with either a family or non-family firm. Heightened identification motivates family members to pursue a favourable reputation because it allows them to feel good about themselves, thus contributing to their socioemotional wealth. We hypothesize that when the family's name is part of the firm's name, the firm's reputation is higher because family members are particularly motivated for their firm to have a better reputation. Family members also need organizational power to pursue a favourable reputation; thus, we hypothesize that the level of family ownership and family board presence should be associated with more favourable reputations. We find support for our theory in a sample of large firms from eight countries with disparate governance systems and cultures.