Journal of Business Economics

, Volume 88, Issue 3–4, pp 503–529 | Cite as

On private equity exits of family firms in the German Mittelstand

  • Florian Kreer
  • René Mauer
  • Steffen Strese
  • Malte Brettel
Original Paper


There is limited existing research on factors influencing the preferences of family firms’ owner-managers for specific modes of external transitions of ownership such as private equity. In a multi-method approach, this study qualitatively gathers the attitudinal beliefs of family firms’ owner-managers about pursuing the private equity succession route. Four classes of beliefs are identified: perceptions of (1) firm continuance; (2) opportunities for firm development; (3) loss of firm ethos; and (4) commercial firm risks. These classes are then tested quantitatively with a sample of 195 family firm owner-managers among the German Mittelstand. Our results partially confirm the qualitative findings: the perception of positive development opportunities and the perception of commercial firm risks explain owner-managers’ intention to pursue a private equity succession, mediated through attitude. Overall, attitude emerges as the cornerstone in this context-specific intention model.


Family firm succession Managerial decisions Private equity Mittelstand Theory of planned behavior 

JEL Classification

G32 M14 D10 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group (WIN), TIME Research AreaRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Chair of Entrepreneurship and InnovationESCP EuropeBerlinGermany

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