For Love or Money? Family versus Financial Blockholders in International Acquisitions

Victor Zitian Chen, Bersant Hobdari*, Franz Kellermanns, Anne Sluhan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Research Question/Issue: We study the relationship between family blockholding of voting rights and the relative size of international acquisitions, and the moderating effect of two types of financial blockholders (pressure-resistant and pressure-sensitive blockholders).
Research Findings/Insights: Employing an international sample of 8,687 nonfinancial cross-border acquisitions conducted by 4,630 acquirer firms from 40 home markets to 66 host countries between 2004 and 2013, we find a U-shaped relationship between family blockholding of voting rights and the relative size of international acquisitions. Further, we find evidence that this relationship is moderated by the presence and type of financial blockholders. While pressure-resistant financial blockholders shift this relationship downwards (due to intensified conflicts), pressure-sensitive financial blockholders shift it upwards.
Theoretical/Academic Implications: We contribute to the literature on family firm governance and internationalization on several fronts. First, we revisit the predominant logic of linear effects of the family blockholding. We suggest the family blockholding's effects are related to nonlinear risk preferences of family owners, expressed through SEW slack. Second, we suggest that the “dominant shareholder interest” assumption of family firms, usually based on the controlling family's SEW should be interpreted contingent upon the interests of other financial shareholders. Finally, using family-financial blockholder conflicts as the scenario, we suggest that principal-principal conflicts depend on the composition of the conflicting blockholders, specifically, upon the nature of their relations with the firm.
Practitioner/Policy Implications: This study offers insights to policymakers and those interested in incentivizing family ownership that family owners’ risk behaviors should be understood and discussed in the context of different financial blockholders as a reference group.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCorporate Governance: An International Review
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)140-160
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 04 June 2021.


  • Corporate governance
  • Family firms
  • Financial blockholders
  • International acquisitions
  • Pressure-resistant
  • Pressure-sensitive
  • Socioemotional wealth

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