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The Evolution of Corporate Ownership and Family Firms


Previous research has shown that there is a great variety in ownership and control arrangements across countries. This diversity has sparked a lively debate and in order to understand the reasons for such differences, it was felt that one had to go back in time and look at the evolution of ownership and control in parallel with the evolution of economic growth, regulatory reform and politics.

This project, initiated by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), examines the evolution of ownership and control in nine countries. A number of ECGI Research Fellows and Associates will work closely with the NBER and the University of Alberta School of Business.

The research project is sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the University of Alberta Business School and the ECGI.

Project teams have been appointed for the different country topics. The project leader is Randall K. Morck, Stephen A. Jarislowsky Professor of Finance at the University of Alberta Business School and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Financial Times Article Series

In 2003, a series of articles appeared in the Financial Times highlighting the key results of the research. See ECGI Press coverage for details of the some of theses articles. (Some coverage requires a subscription to

Introduction (3 February 2003) The complex evolution of family affairs
UK (4 February 2003) Takeovers that broke family ties
Italy (24 March 2003) Italy's firm family ties
Japan (2 July 2003) Japan Inc feels crushing weight of history
Sweden (16 October 2003) Socialist ideal that tied up Swedish riches website

In conjunction with the corporate dynasties article series, hosts a special site, which includes related material from the FT.

ECGI Working Papers

ECGI Working Papers will appear over the course of the project. Those published to date are:
The Origination and Evolution of Ownership and Control by Julian Franks, Colin Mayer, and Stefano Rossi January 2003 (N°. 9/2003)
History of Corporate Ownership in Italy by Alexander Aganin and Paolo Volpin, March 2003 (N°. 17/2003)
The History of Corporate Ownership in Japan by Randall Morck and Masao Nakamura July 2003 (N°. 20/2003)
The History and Politics of Corporate Ownership in Sweden by Peter Hogfeldt October 2003 (N°. 30/2003 )


'A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers Family Business Groups to Professional Managers' by Randall K Morck was published in December 2005 by University of Chicago Press. It provides historical studies of the patterns of corporate governance in several countries - including the large industrial economies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States; larger developing economies like China and India; and alternative models like those of the Netherlands and Sweden.
See details, an abstract of the book and how to order from Blackwells