Accounting Research in Family Firms: Theoretical and Empirical Challenges

Annalisa Prencipe*, Sasson Bar-Yosef, Henri Dekker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Family firms play a significant role in the global economy. Consistently, over the last two decades academia has turned its attention to the family dimension as a determinant of business phenomena, and this interest has increased over time. While family business research has reached an age of ‘adolescence’ as a field of study, accounting research to date seems to have been rather slow to pick up on the distinctive characteristics of family firms, and their implications for accounting and reporting practices. In an attempt to accelerate and support research in the field, in this article we highlight theoretical and empirical challenges that accounting scholars need to consider when addressing issues related to accounting and reporting in family firms. These challenges include the selection and potential mixing of appropriate theoretical frameworks, and complications in defining operationally what family firms are. We also provide a ‘state of the art’ of studies in financial accounting, management accounting and auditing, identifying which issues in relation to family firms have been addressed in the research, and which theories, research methods and types of data have been used in these studies. We conclude by providing directions for future research that can advance our understanding of accounting and reporting in family firms
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Accounting Review
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)361-385
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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