Extract Or Not Extract? The Effect of Familism on Stock Option Plans

  •  Claudia Arena    
  •  Simona Catuogno    
  •  Alessandro Cirillo    
  •  Luca Pennacchio    


There is an ongoing debate in managerial literature regarding the aim of stock option plans (SOPs). In this paper we analyse whether and to what extent the family involvement in ownership and managerial positions affects the use of SOPs as tools to extract rents. By examining a sample of plans issued by Italian listed firms, we classify the SOPs according to their characteristics (i.e. vesting period, lock-up, strike price, market index) and identify three different clusters namely Rent SOPs, Non-Rent SOPs, Hybrid. After controlling for CEO family, board size, equity owned by minority shareholders, and other firm-specific characteristics, we find that family firms are less likely to adopt SOPs for rent extraction purpose. We also find that SOPs specifically granted to family members are less likely to pursue rent extraction goals. Our findings are robust against different specifications of family firms. This paper offers important theoretical contributions to management research and insightful policy implications for all family owned listed firms.

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