We document that 50% of public listed Japanese family firms are still under the control by the founding family 50 years after the IPO. The control of top management is persistent even when ownership stakes becomes insignificant and without the use of dual class shares or pyramids. Examples include eponyms such as Casio, Toyota and Suzuki. The families’ reputation, networks of financiers, and talent correlate with longevity of family control. Our results challenge the lifecycle view of corporations in advanced economies and highlights the importance of intangible “family” assets in understanding the evolution of family control.
Visiting Associate Professor of Finance, Kellogg School of Management