This study examines family firms’ propensity to protect their intellectual property through patents. Building on the mixed gamble logic of the behavioral agency model, we theorize that family ownership has a U-shaped relationship with firm propensity to patent. Specifically, we argue that family firms’ desire to prevent losses of current socioemotional wealth (SEW) inhibits their propensity to patent until a threshold level of family ownership, beyond which the family’s SEW is secured and a greater focus on prospective financial gains attainable through patents is possible. We also suggest that environmental munificence moderates this nonlinear relationship such that a low-munificent environment accentuates the potentially detrimental (beneficial) effects of low-to-medium (medium-to-high) levels of family ownership on patents. We test our hypotheses on a sample of 4,198 small- and medium-sized family firms.
- environmental munificence
- family firms
- intellectual property protection