The majority of companies in Germany are family companies. They are not only represented in the SME sector, but a significant portion also among the large companies with more than 50 million Euro in annual sales. The economic significance of family companies and their specific features in comparison to other companies have been investigated in the recent years in studies of IfM Bonn (2007, 2010) and the ZEW (2009, 2011, 2014). The studies of the ZEW in corporation with the ifm Mannheim 2009, 2011 and 2014 on behalf of the Foundation for Family Companies analyzed among others the structural characteristics of family firms (diversification of sector, size and legal structure), as well as their share of employment and turnover in the overall economy. Moreover they included a list of the top 500 family firms and they compared the development of sales and employment of these companies with that of non-family firms in the DAX.
For the proposed project it is intended to show the significant structural features of family firms; unlike the last projects in this analysis companies that are liable to the trade regulation act should be distinguished from free-lancer self-employment.
Furthermore the list of the top 500 family firms is updated and the comparison of the development of these companies with the development of non-family firms is updated to the year 2015.
For the first time this year the extent of the export activity of family firms should be an issue. Furthermore the credit rating of family firms compared to non-family firms will be examined. The credit rating provides information on a company’s creditworthiness and thus on the possibility to acquire additional funds from banks if necessary.

Selected Publications


Gottschalk, Sandra, Jürgen Egeln, Jan Kinne, Annegret Hauer, Detlef Keese and Marie Oehme (2017), Die volkswirtschaftliche Bedeutung der Familienunternehmen, Stiftung Familienunternehmen, München. Download