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Family firms, firm characteristics, and corporate social performance: A study of public firms in Japan

Michikazu Aoi (Graduate School of Global Business, Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan)
Shigeru Asaba (Waseda Business School, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan)
Keiichi Kubota (Graduate School of Strategic Management, Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan)
Hitoshi Takehara (Graduate School of Finance, Accounting and Law, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan)

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Article publication date: 12 October 2015



The purpose of this paper is to explore corporate social performance attained by listed family and non-family firms in Japan. They are measured by the composite CSP index and five attributes composed of employ relations, social contributions (SCs), firm security and product safety, internal governance and risk control, and environment concern.


The authors employ univariate and regression analyses on the quantitatively aggregated CSP score data of Japanese firms from 2007 to 2009.


Japan non-family firms tend to perform better than family firms in terms of attaining corporate social performance overall. Family CEOs positively affect CSP in the foods, textiles and apparels, and pharmaceutical industries as well as in retail trade, wholesale, and services industries, but negatively affect CSP in the heavy manufacturing industry. In these industries the joint effect of the percentage of family shareholdings and the fraction of family members on the board also augments the positive role played by family CEO. The findings are robust when the sample is ranked by Tobin’s q.

Research limitations/implications

The observation period is short due to the data availability of CSP by Toyo Keizai Inc. This data covers all the listed firms which answered the questionnaire, which may also contain sample selection problems.

Practical implications

Positive role of CEO and negative effects of shareholdings among listed family firms in Japan call for attention and corrective measures for top management and family shareholders.

Social implications

While family firms in Japan may accumulate socioemotional wealth, they should exert more efforts to advance CSP and create social capital.


This is the first comprehensive quantitative study in the field, which explored CSP of all the listed family firms vs non-family firms in Japan with large sample.



JEL Classification — G32, G15, M14, M16

The authors thank valuable comments and suggestions from the editor and three anonymous referees, who helped improve the exposition of this paper. The paper was previously presented at the Eighth Asia Academy of Management Conference in Seoul 2013, the 2012 Japan Finance Association Annual Meeting in Tokyo, the 2012 Annual IFERA World Family Business Research Conference in Bordeaux, the 2012 Eastern Japan Meeting of the Japan Finance Association in Tokyo, the 2012 Southwestern Finance Association Annual Meeting in New Orleans, and the 2011 International Conference on Ownership, Management Control, and Family Businesses: Theory and Evidence at Nanzan University, Nagoya. The authors also thank Kais Bouslah, Britta Boyd, Zhaoyang Gu, Hideaki Kato, Hiroshi Maruyama, Vincent Molly, Tak Wakasugi, and Yasushi Yoshida for their helpful comments. The authors thank Sasson Bar-Yosef, Chihiro Iwai, Akira Komatsu, Annalisa Prencipe, and Megumi Suto for useful discussion. Michikazu Aoi, Shigeru Asaba, Keiichi Kubota, and Hitoshi Takehara acknowledge financial support from the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research ((A) 21243029 (A) 25245052, and (C) 24530581) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan. Hitoshi Takehara acknowledges financial support from the Health Labour Sciences Research Grant (Research on Policy Planning and Evaluation). All remaining errors are our own.


Aoi, M., Asaba, S., Kubota, K. and Takehara, H. (2015), "Family firms, firm characteristics, and corporate social performance: A study of public firms in Japan", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 192-217.



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