The Potential Downside of Having Non-Family Board Members

The Potential Downside of Having Non-Family Board Members
Category: Commentary
Published: August 17, 2020
Updated: August 17, 2023
Views: 72835
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By Alfredo DeMassis, Lorraine Uhlaner, Ann Jorrissen and Yan Du

It's been generally accepted that family firms benefit from the perspectives of outsiders on the board of directors. Outsiders can bring new knowledge and objectiveness to family firm governance. But our survey of 561 small- and medium-sized Belgian firms showed a potential downside: the presence of outsiders can be detrimental if CEOs are more reluctant to talk about finances, market position, strategy and efficiency with the entire board. This was especially true at companies where the board met infrequently and where the CEO wanted to keep tight control over operations and the flow of information. The unhappy result: the board became disengaged, and firm performance suffered.

The video summarizes our findings, and you can download our research paper here

Alfredo De Massis
Alfredo De Massis
Professor of Entrepreneurship & Family Business / Center for Family Business / Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, IMD and Lancaster University
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Cite this Article
DOI: 10.32617/556-5f3aa5e232771
De Massis, Alfredo. "The Potential Downside of Having Non-Family Board Members." 17 Aug. 2020. Web 20 Apr. 2024 <>.
De Massis, A. (2020, August 17). The potential downside of having non-family board members. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from