DP10445 | The New Lyrics of the Old Folks: The Role of Family Ownership in Corporate Innovation

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According to conventional wisdom, family ownership, which signals a lack of social capital and trust in an economy, may impede innovation. This argument, however, fails to recognize that modern family firms can benefit from capitalist institutions that promote innovation. Using a comprehensive sample of U.S. family-owned public firms and patents for the period from 1998 to 2010, we show that family ownership plays multiple roles in promoting innovation and its influence can be attributed to reduced financial constraints, a greater commitment to long-term value, and improved corporate governance. Causality is confirmed through an instrumental variable analysis, a difference-in-difference analysis based on an exogenous regulatory shock and a matched sample analysis.