Excess control rights in family firms: A socioemotional wealth perspective

Wei Shi, Brian L. Connelly, Jiangyan Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research Question/Issue: This study attempts to uncover a hidden benefit of shareholders' excess control rights in family firms by examining whether excess control rights can reduce the likelihood of financial misconduct in family firms, compared with nonfamily firms. Research Findings/Insights: We argue that excess control rights are especially useful for family-owned firms, compared with firms with other types of ownership, in preventing financial misconduct. They afford family owners the ability to guard against misconduct that can damage the founder's legacy and reduce the family's socioemotional wealth. We also investigate two boundary conditions, the presence of a family member as the board chair and the family's public visibility, that validate our proposed theoretical mechanism. In these scenarios, the family owner's socioemotional wealth is particularly high and could be impacted severely by misconduct. Results from a sample of 2516 publicly traded firms in China support our theory. Theoretical/Academic Implications: Our study challenges traditional agency theory about excess control rights by exploring the potential of excess control rights to mitigate principal–agent problems and prevent financial misconduct in family firms. Practitioner/Policy Implications: Regulators who make decisions to forbid or permit excess shareholder control in publicly listed firms must be aware that excess shareholder control could deter financial misconduct in family firms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCorporate Governance: An International Review
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • corporate governance
  • excess control rights
  • family firms
  • financial misconduct
  • socioemotional wealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Excess control rights in family firms: A socioemotional wealth perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this