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Enterprise risk management in family firms: evidence from Austria and Germany

Martin R.W. Hiebl (University of Siegen, Siegen, Germany)
Christine Duller (Johannes Kepler University Linz, Linz, Austria)
Herbert Neubauer (Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria)

Journal of Risk Finance

ISSN: 1526-5943

Article publication date: 9 January 2019

Issue publication date: 23 January 2019




Family firms are the most prevalent type of firm worldwide. Nevertheless, the existent enterprise risk management (ERM) literature is silent on the adoption of ERM in family firms. Family firms exhibit specifics likely to influence the adoption of ERM. Most importantly, they often feature lower levels of agency conflicts, which should make them less prone to invest in mechanisms to control such problems. Consequently, it is expected that family firms are less prone to invest in ERM. This paper aims to explore this basic expectation.


This study is based on a survey of 430 firms from Austria and Germany.


It is observed that family firms show a lower adoption of ERM, especially in family firms where there is a family CEO.

Research limitations/implications

The results suggest that future empirical ERM research should more closely analyze or at least control for family influence.


This study is among the first to analyze ERM adoption in family firms.



Prior versions of this paper were presented at the 4th Conference of German Centers of Family Business Research (FIFU DACHLi) in Vienna, Austria, in 2014 and at the 4th Annual Conference on Risk Governance in Siegen, Germany, in 2016. The authors would like to thank the participants of these conferences and the two anonymous reviewers for many valuable suggestions, which helped to improve the initial versions of this paper. The authors are also grateful for input provided on this research project by Birgit Feldbauer-Durstmüller, Dorothea Greiling and Waltraud Öller.


Hiebl, M.R.W., Duller, C. and Neubauer, H. (2019), "Enterprise risk management in family firms: evidence from Austria and Germany", Journal of Risk Finance, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 39-58.



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