Payout differences between family and nonfamily listed firms: a socioemotional wealth perspective

Manon Deslandes ( ESG-UQAM Montreal Canada )
Anne Fortin ( ESG-UQAM Montreal Canada )
Suzanne Landry ( HEC Montreal Montreal Canada )

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Publication date: 1 March 2016



The objective of this study is to explain family firm payout decisions based on socioemotional wealth (SEW) considerations.


A sample of publicly listed Canadian companies is examined for the period from 2003 to 2008. Distinguishing family firms from nonfamily firms, a Probit regression is used to analyze the likelihood of making a payout. For payout firms, regressions are used to analyze the relationship between payout level (dividends and share repurchases) and payout mix and family firms.


Results indicate that family firms are more likely to make a payout than nonfamily firms. Among payout firms, the level of payout among payout firms is lower for family firms than for nonfamily firms and their portion of payout in the form of dividends is higher. Lone founder family firms have a lower likelihood of making payouts than other family firms. However, among payout firms, they pay out more than other family firms and have a smaller percentage of their total payout in dividends than other family firms.

Research limitations/implications

Results are impacted by the definition of what constitutes a family firm. Family ownership was used as a proxy for the underlying SEW considerations. Future research could involve interviews with family firm representatives to investigate the relative importance of SEW considerations in their payout decisions.


In providing an alternative theoretical framing of family firms’ payout policies, the study suggests that payout differences between family and nonfamily firms may be driven in part by SEW considerations.


Deslandes, M., Fortin, A. and Landry, S. (2016), "Payout differences between family and nonfamily listed firms: a socioemotional wealth perspective", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 6 No. 1.

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