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Lone-founder firms in China: Replicating Miller et al. (2007) in a different context

Vitaliy Skorodziyevskiy Erik T. Markin Lina Zhu James J. Chrisman Hanqing “Chevy” Fang
Journal of Family Business Strategy. August 2, 2021

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We replicate, in the Chinese context, a study undertaken in 2007 by Miller, Le Breton-Miller, Lester, and Cannella (MLLC), which examined the performance differences among lone-founder firms, family firms, and nonfamily firms in the U.S. Our goal was to test the generalizability of MLLC’s findings, as well as uncover contextual nuances that might exist in a markedly different institutional context that also includes state-owned enterprises. Our results corroborate MLLC’s finding that lone-founder firms outperform other types of firms. We also find that when family ownership is at lower levels, family firms and nonfamily firms seem to have similar performance; however, family firms have a performance advantage at higher levels of family ownership. Finally, we find that state-owned enterprises are outperformed by lone-founder, family and nonfamily firms. Our study highlights the importance of distinguishing among different types of nonfamily firms, between family and lone-founder firms, and among family firms with different levels of family ownership. We discuss the implications of our findings and offer suggestions for future research in family business.