Ethics in Family and Non-Family Owned Firms: An Exploratory Study


Marketing & Professional Sales

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Limited research on ethics in family business leads to competing arguments regarding whether family firms are more, less or equally as ethical as non-family controlled firms. Comparing structured interview data from 214 respondents in family firms with a proportionally matched sample of 230 respondents in non-family-owned firms, we found few—but important—differences in ethics-related attitudes, behavior and experiences. Fewer family-owned businesses had formal codes of ethics. They were more likely to employ informal methods to promote ethical behavior, with role modeling of expected behaviors regarded as more important than in non-family firms.