Drawing on upper echelons theory (UET) and arguments from behavioral theory of the firm, this paper aims to contribute to the debate on family involvement-performance relationship, by considering the mediating role of the propensity towards merger and acquisition (M&A) and the moderating role of performance feedback.
The hypotheses are tested by applying a moderated mediation analysis on a sample of 111 German family firms. First, a mediation model is run to verify the mediation role of the propensity towards M&A; then, to evaluate the magnitude of the mediation at different values of the moderator (performance feedback), conditional indirect effects are tested using normal-theory standard errors and bootstrapping procedure.
The main findings suggest that a higher percentage of family members sitting in TMT is related to better performance and that this effect is mediated by the propensity towards M&A. Furthermore, findings also show that a higher percentage of family managers is positively related to the propensity towards M&A and, in turn, exerts a positive effect of firm performance, especially when performance feedback is negative.
The paper suggests to family firms’ managers that when performance feedback is negative, a riskier behavior, such as M&A, could represent a way to improve firm performance.
The paper provides a full application of UET to the context of family firms, offers the point of view of TMT, instead of that of ownership, to study the propensity towards M&A in family firms and goes beyond the rational view to explain family managers’ risk-taking behaviors.
Keywords: TMT composition; Merger and acquisition; Performance; Performance feedback; Family firms.