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Are female leaders more efficient in family firms than in non-family firms?

Per-Olof Bjuggren (Centre for Family Enterprise and Ownership, Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden and The Ratio Institute, Stockholm, Sweden)
Louise Nordström (Department of Economics, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden)
Johanna Palmberg (Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum, Stockholm, Sweden and Department of Economics, Södertörn University, Huddinge, Sweden)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 7 February 2018

Issue publication date: 21 March 2018




The aim of this study is to investigate whether female leaders are more efficient in family firms than in non-family firms.


This paper uses a unique database of ownership and leadership in private Swedish firms that makes it possible to analyze differences in firm performance due to female leadership in family and non-family firms. The analysis is based on survey data merged with micro-level data on Swedish firms. Only firms with five or more employees are included in the analysis. The sample contains more than 1,000 firms.


The descriptive statistics show that there are many more male than female corporate leaders. However, the regression analysis indicates that female leadership has a much more positive impact on the performance of family firms than on that for non-family firms, where the effect is ambiguous.


Comparative studies examining the impact of female leadership on firm-level performance in family and non-family firms are rare, and those that exist are most often either qualitative or focused on large, listed firms. By investigating the role of female directors in family and non-family firms, the study adds to the literature on management, corporate governance and family firms.



Bjuggren, P.-O., Nordström, L. and Palmberg, J. (2018), "Are female leaders more efficient in family firms than in non-family firms?", Corporate Governance, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 185-205.



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