'Family' ownership, tunnelling and earnings management: a review of the literature

Sumon Bhaumik, Andros Gregoriou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this review paper, we bring together a number of aspects of family firms that are ubiquitous in a number of institutional contexts, often as part of larger business groups. We pay particular attention to the mechanisms by which families retain control over firms, and the incentives of the families in control to expropriate other stakeholders by way of tunnelling. We examine the role of earnings management in facilitating tunnelling, and evidence about the incidence of earnings management in family firms. Our review suggests that while the literature on these aspects of family control is rich, the contexts in which the empirical exercises are undertaken are relatively few, and hence there is considerable opportunity to expand it to other contexts, in particular in the form of cross-country comparisons of the relative impact of agency conflicts and institutions on these issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-730
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Economic Surveys
Issue number4
Early online date1 Mar 2010
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


  • agency problem
  • earnings management
  • family control
  • group affiliation
  • tunnelling


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