This paper considers aspects of the evolution of ownership and control in global industries from 1960. The existing literature usually uses the largest firms in industrialized countries, to provide generalizations about national systems of corporate governance. In practice, this characterization is far from being comprehensive. For example, global industries which are not dominant in countries’ economies – such as alcoholic beverages – are overlooked.

Including such overlooked cases, this study suggests that there is a broader range of combinations of ownership and control of firms than is usually considered. Regardless of national systems of corporate governance, family ownership may remain very important in some industries. Industry-specific factors, such as brands and marketing knowledge in alcoholic beverages, help explain why the predominant ownership and control structures of global firms are distinct from those that characterize their countries of origin.