While the vast majority of research on family firm performance draws on agency theory it remains plagued by conflicting empirical findings. This study departs from the mainstream by focusing on how identity-based differences among CEOs relates to family firm performance. Data collected from a sample of Korean family firms show CEO identity is associated with a different willingness to distribute control in family firms, as well as performance implications. Moreover, these performance differences can have a ‘dark side’ for both the firm and first-son descendants. Despite the strong family connection, FSs may find themselves more often replaced over time.