African Journal of
Business Management

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1993-8233
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJBM
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 4137

Full Length Research Paper

Socioemotional wealth and probability of financial distress

Pietro Gottardo
  • Pietro Gottardo
  • Department of Economics and Management, University of Pavia, Italy.
  • Google Scholar
Anna Maria Moisello
  • Anna Maria Moisello
  • Department of Economics and Management, University of Pavia, Italy.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 12 May 2017
  •  Accepted: 21 June 2017
  •  Published: 14 July 2017


This study analyzes a firm’s characteristics which affect the probability of financial distress. It takes into account accounting variables, ownership and management characteristics. In particular, it studies the effect of the ultimate controlling owner nature; that is, family or non-family control, on a firm’s likelihood to run into financial distress. This research focuses on a large sample of Italian private family and non-family firms for the period 2004 to 2013, and drawing on the socioemotional wealth framework, studies the effect of family control and influence by the means of different forms of family involvement into the business. It takes into account family indirect influence by ownership and direct influence by the means of a family chief executive officer (CEO) or by the presence of family members on the board. The study results point out that family businesses are less likely to incur in financial distress than non-family firms. Moreover, a family CEO reduces a firm’s likelihood of financial distress. On the other hand, the presence of multiple family members on board increases this probability, but the effect is lower in the first generational stage.

Key words: Financial distress, family firms, family control, family influence, socioemotional wealth.