Checking The Corner-Office Timeclock

On March 5,, 2014, the Wall Street Journal published findings of a study by professors at Harvard Business School, the London School of Economics and Columbia University’s business school in which they examined differences between family and non-family businesses. The Journal article focuses on the work schedules of CEOs in the two types of firms. Do CEOs of Family-Owned Businesses Work Less?

The data indicates that heads of family businesses work less hard than heads of non-family enterprises. They suggest that the incentives and risks that motivate professional CEOs to burn the midnight oil just might not be a factor for CEOs of family-owned firms.

Results showed differences between first and second-generation family-business leaders. First generation CEOs were found to work harder than their second-generation counterparts. In my own experience, this conclusion cannot be set in stone. I personally have seen instances of both a lack of motivation and a strong work-ethic and drive in second generation leaders.

The research suggested that family business CEOs may be spending their time differently. Instead of clocking long hours in the “corner office,” they may be focusing on balancing work-family responsibilities. Family CEOs might be adding value to their firms in ways not captured by the hours they are formally working, such as participating social activities that indirectly benefit the business.

According to the Journal article the jury is still out as to whether family-owned businesses with inside CEOs perform better or worse than non-family firms with outside CEOs.