In this study, we explore what kinds of family firms are more likely to have a family CEO or professional CEO, and investigate the performance of CEOs from different backgrounds. The results show that firms with low requirements in managerial skills and a high potential for expropriation are more likely to choose a CEO from the controlling family (nepotism). Our investigation, furthermore, shows that when a firm requires high managerial skills, using a professional CEO can help firm performance, especially if the family has low cash-flow rights and weak control. When there is large opportunity for expropriation in a family firm, the firm's performance will be better if the CEO is a family member and the family has highly persuasive cash-flow rights. Copyright (c) 2007 The Authors; Journal compilation (c) 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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