Review of Managerial Science

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 119–156 | Cite as

Independent directors, large shareholders and firm performance: the generational stage of family businesses and the socioemotional wealth approach

  • Rebeca García-RamosEmail author
  • Belén Díaz-Díaz
  • Myriam García-Olalla
Original Paper


The effectiveness of independent directors is empirically addressed in the Southern European context using a sample of 221 publicly traded firms during the 2001–2007 period. Drawing on the socioemotional wealth approach, we focus on family control and influence to test whether there are significant differences in the effect of independent directors on the firm’s performance among non-family businesses (NFBs) that have a non-family large shareholder, and family businesses (FBs). In doing so, we consider the heterogeneity of FBs by testing whether the FB’s life cycle moderates the effectiveness of independent directors. To that end, we differentiate among founder lead family businesses and non-founder lead family businesses. Moreover, we test whether dual leadership structures, in particular when the family chief executive officer is also the chairperson of the board, moderates the effectiveness of independent directors. A cross-country and panel data design was used, taking into account the endogeneity problem arising in studies of corporate governance. The results show that the contribution of independent directors to a firm’s performance differs for NFBs and FBs. Moreover, findings confirm that in FBs, contribution is moderated by the generational stage of the FB and by the leadership structure of the firm.


Independent directors Socioemotional wealth Large shareholders Family businesses Chief executive officer Generational stage Firm performance 

JEL Classification

G32 G34 



This paper is part of the research project entitled “Governance, incentives, and risk management in global Banks” (APIE Num. 2/2015-2017), funded by the Santander Financial Institute (SANFI) with the sponsorship of Banco Santander, awarded by public call of the University of Cantabria (Official Bulletin of Cantabria. BOC Number 236, 9 December 2014). We thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebeca García-Ramos
    • 1
    Email author
  • Belén Díaz-Díaz
    • 1
  • Myriam García-Olalla
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Business AdministrationUniversity of CantabriaSantanderSpain

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