Purpose: This study explores family firms' ex ante conflict management strategies to preserve their socioemotional wealth (SEW) under predictable conflict through the succession process. Specifically, the authors examine how family firms leverage the insurance-like benefits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to mitigate the threat of foreseeable family feuds among the sons of firms' family heads. Design/methodology/approach: The authors focus on the charitable donations pledged by Korean family business groups (chaebols). Using the data of 62 chaebols with generalized least squares (GLS) models, the authors analyze 711 observations from 2005 to 2017. Findings: The authors find a positive relationship between the number of sons of a family firm's head and the firm's CSR activities such as spending on charitable donations. Furthermore, the number of daughters of heads in executive positions strengthens such a positive relationship, whereas the number of business and political marriage ties weakens this relationship. Practical implications: Family heads of family businesses may leverage CSR activities and marriage ties to elite families interchangeably to ward off negative impacts from foreseeable family feuds and preserve their SEW. Thus, a policy-based incentive for CSR that encourages more family heads to use CSR as insurance would serve the public interest. Originality/value: The authors contribute to the family business literature by suggesting that CSR activities can be used by family firms as an instrument to mitigate foreseeable damage to the SEW caused by family feuds. The authors also shed new light on CSR research by finding that marriage ties to elite families may reduce the strategic value of CSR activities.
- Chief executive officer (CEO) succession
- Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
- Family feud
- Socioemotional wealth (SEW)