Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Business Administration

First Advisor

Charles Clay Dibrell

Second Advisor

Richard Gentry

Third Advisor

Paul Johnson

Relational Format



Family firms are not only the most prevalent form of business organization in the world, accounting for roughly 75% of all organizations (La Porta, Lopez-de-Silanes, & Shleifer, 1999; Miller, Steier, & Le Breton-Miller, 2003), they also represent “heterogeneous and complex enterprises” that offer a “challenging array of issues to study” (Sharma, Chrisman, & Gersick, 2012, p. 5). Accordingly, this series of essays explores diversification strategies in family firms by investigating the family specific factors which may influence strategic decision-making. I begin with a review of the diversification literature over the last 20 years. Next, using data from S&P 1500 firms, Essays 2 and 3 are quantitative studies that focus on firm performance following acquisitions as well as ownership exit routes for family owners. Specifically, in Essay 2, I focus on acquisition deals and investigate situations in which two governance forms (family and non-family) interact within a single transaction. Lastly, in Essay 3, I investigate the factors that may influence family business owners’ exit choice between an outright sale or a gradual exit from the business.



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