ifm-Study: Social beings or cold numbers
Munich, 06.03.2014

Study: Social beings or cold numbers

There are significant differences with respect to the motivations of management between family business owners and managers of non-family businesses. The family business entrepreneurs pursue more employee-oriented or social objectives than the comparison group, as the study "social beings or cold numbers? " of the Institute for SME Research, University of Mannheim shows. The representative study commissioned by the Foundation for Family Businesses attempted to find out how close both groups are to the concept of "homo economicus" - that aims to maximize benefits and profit.

In the survey, 92.2 percent of family businesses indicated that it was very important to provide job security for their employees, but only 76.5 percent of non-family businesses. 59.7 percent of family businesses, but only 43.7 percent of non-family businesses support charitable or sporting activities, clubs and foundations. In terms of profit orientation or attitude to risk the two groups, however, do not differ much.

"Family businesses are obviously different. They pursue their economic goals in a more socially acceptable manner than non-family businesses," commented Prof. Rainer Kirchdörfer, CEO of the Foundation for Family Businesses. "Family businesses are closer to the idea of the "good corporate citizen" and are accordingly more responsible - acting in the interests of society," said Prof. Michael Woywode, one of the authors of the study , firmly.

The sample for the survey includes 587 interviews (with the owners or managers of family businesses as well as non-family business managers of firms with a size of more than 50 employees). 259 or 44.12 per cent of them are family businesses.

One focus of the investigation covers to the topic of taxation. About 90 percent of surveyed decision makers of both types of companies indicated that it was very important or important to pay taxes in order to ensure the government's ability to act. Also, 90 percent consider it a moral obligation to pay taxes. 63 percent are of the opinion that a company must be prepared to make its contribution to the community, even if other companies would be more likely to rely on the state to distribute benefits. "These survey results indicate there is a higher tax morale in large parts of the economy than is repeatedly claimed," Kirchdörfer notes.

The inheritance tax is lacking in acceptance
The leaders of family and non-family businesses evaluate the inheritance tax as most unfair. Less than 17 percent of respondents consider it somewhat or very fair. 47.1 percent of family businesses and 45.3 percent of non- family entrepreneurs, however consider it to be unfair or very unfair. This form of substance taxation has been vehemently rejected by companies that were founded before 1945, as well as by those that have gone public in recent years, or are planning to in the coming years. "The Federal Constitutional Court is expected to decide this year whether the discharge of business assets in the estate tax is constitutional. Those that want to extend the scope of this tax, weaken the acceptance of the tax system,"says Kirchdörfer.

The study also shows how well the federal government is doing in terms of waiving property taxes. The survey shows that a wealth tax is being especially rejected by the companies that are already committed to voluntary social engagement and are not economically motivated. In addition, almost a quarter of family businesses would, in the case of a 1 or 1.5 % annual wealth tax, consider shifting operations abroad. When one considers the strong regional roots of these family businesses this is a very high value.

For more information:

Hartmut Kistenfeger

Head of Communications and Programs

Stiftung Familienunternehmen
Prinzregentenstraße 50, D-80538 Munich

Phone: +49 (0) 89 / 12 76 400 06
Fax: +49 (0) 89 / 12 76 400 09

E-Mail: kistenfeger(at)

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