FAMILY businesses are among the most robust performers amid the slowdown in economic growth, a survey has found.

According to a research report released by the Credit Suisse Research Institute and Ernst & Young, 60 per cent reported revenue growth of at least 5 per cent in the prior year.

By having a different management style focused on long-term investment, family businesses are outperforming public companies, the report said.

The survey involved 280 family businesses across the world in April and May this year.

Twenty-one per cent of the respondents were from emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The rest were mainly from Europe.

Mr Michael O'Sullivan, head of portfolio strategy and thematic research at Credit Suisse Private Banking, said: "The family business model - centred on a longer-term focus, cohesion and awareness of sustainability issues, and an emphasis on the importance of product quality - is not only proving to be a vital engine of economic activity, but also the antidote to some of the structural failings uncovered by the financial crisis."

The performance of the emerging-market companies in the survey was even stronger, with more than a quarter saying that revenues grew by 15 per cent or more in the same period.

The cash flow returns that listed family businesses have generated have been consistently superior to those of the wider listed sector, the survey noted.

The Credit Suisse Family Business Index has now outperformed the MSCI World Index over the past five years by 8 per cent.

Another sign that these family businesses are robust is that the euro zone debt crisis is low on the list of their concerns.

Only 15 per cent registered it as a major concern. External markets are not closed to family businesses, and more than half suggest that credit is equally accessible now as before the financial crisis.

The strength of their performance appears to be supported by their long-term, quality-first approach, particularly in the more mature third- and fourth-generation companies.

Most have a long-term payback approach to investment and focus on an internal rather than external financing model to fund future growth.

The model is one of "patient capital", but one that pays off.