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Sufficient capital is the basic requirement necessary to operate the business, to fund innovation, to drive growth and to successfully hand over the business to next generations. Thomas Pijanowski investigates the impact of family firms on bank loan officers’ judgment and decision making in the context of lending. Using an experimental conjoint approach and building upon behavioral economics he examines the question of whether and why loan officers deal heterogeneously with different types of family firms in the context of their credit availability decisions. The outcome of this research project holds some important implications for practitioners.



1. Introduction

Family firms play an important role within society and represent a predominant organizational form of businesses within the world’s economic landscape. Depending on the country in focus and the particular definition of the term family firm that underlie individual studies, literature estimates that family firms represent about 50-96% of all businesses (International Family Enterprise Research Academy, 2003). Additionally, numerous scholars regularly point out to the significant role of family firms within our economic system and the need to scientifically investigate this form of organization (Anderson & Reeb, 2003; Morck & Yeung, 2004; Chrisman et al., 2005; Chrisman et al., 2007). As a consequence, research on family firms has grown rapidly during the last two decades (Gomez-Mejia et al., 2011).
Thomas Pijanowski

2. Literature Review

This chapter presents an overview of the currently available literature that is relevant for this research project. In particular, this literature review pursues four goals. It aims to (1) give an overview of what is already known with regards to the research question in focus, (2) identify considerable research gaps which also provide additional arguments for the relevance of this study, (3) make propositions for future research of which some are pursued by this study and (4) establish a theoretical basis for the development of the present study’s theoretical model.
Thomas Pijanowski

3. Theoretical Model and Hypotheses Development

The focus of this chapter is to develop a testable theoretical model on the basis of the previously reviewed literature in order to examine the influence of family involvement on loan officers’ lending decisions. Therefore, this part of the thesis will start by giving an overview of the overall theoretical model in section 3.1. Thereafter, the individual effects and the corresponding hypotheses are developed. Finally, this chapter will be closed by recapitulating its content and summing up all of the developed hypotheses.
Thomas Pijanowski

4. Research Methodology

In order to test the previously derived hypotheses, an experiment with a total of 90 loan officers working for different banks in Germany was conducted. The experimenter collected data on (1) bank loan officers’ decision making strategies using a conjoint approach, (2) participants orientation toward SEW using a post-experimental questionnaire and (3) other controls like e.g. family background or education on the level of loan officers and their employers. In a first step, the conjoint experiment was conducted before collecting the other data in order to minimize the potential threat of response bias. Data was then analyzed with a HLM approach. In the following, the distinct methodological components will be discussed in more detail.
Thomas Pijanowski

5. Results

Within this chapter, the empirical results of the previously described conjoint-experiment will be presented. However, it has to be noted that this part of the thesis will focus only on results that relate to the leading research question and to the to-be-tested hypotheses in order to ensure clarity and to not lose the plot of this study. In addition, this section only includes a description of the generated results. The discussion of the results will follow in the next chapter.
Thomas Pijanowski

6. Discussion and Conclusion

The main goal of this research project was to find out whether and why lenders deal differently with various types of family firms within the context of their lending decisions and more specifically in the course of their credit availability decisions. From an overall level and with respect to the first part of the main research question, the empirical results of the underlying experimental study show that the level of family involvement has a positive direct effect on loan officers’ credit availability decisions, indicating that lenders deal differently with family firms in that they tend to rather support family firms with higher levels of family influence in comparison to those where the family does not play such an integral role. The insight that family involvement has a significant effect on lenders’ decisions is generally in line with the author’s expectations. Nevertheless, it was not clear in which direction it would affect bank loan officers’ decisions as on the one hand the extant theoretical frameworks were not able to make such specific predictions and on the other hand the currently available literature on this topic reported mixed empirical conclusions (see hypotheses H1a – H3b).
Thomas Pijanowski


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