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Internationalization of family firms: the effect of ownership and governance

Abstract

Despite family firm’s dominant role in economies worldwide, there is little empirical knowledge on their internationalization. Drawing on a sample of Austrian firms, this paper investigates the impact of family influence and various governance factors on internationalization. The findings reveal an inverted U-shaped relationship between family influence and internationalization. Family firms with medium family influence are the most internationally active companies. This indicates that concerning internationalization the advantages of being a family firm are highest when the family’s ownership share and involvement in management and governance boards is not too extensive. Additionally, neither the incumbent generation, nor the level of non-family executives in the management board, nor the existence of a supervisory board has a significant influence on going international. Since advisory boards seem to foster internationalization, they might be an adjuvant means of equipping family firms with the necessary capabilities, know-how and contacts to operate internationally.

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Mitter, C., Duller, C., Feldbauer-Durstmüller, B. et al. Internationalization of family firms: the effect of ownership and governance. Rev Manag Sci 8, 1–28 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11846-012-0093-x

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Keywords

  • Family firms
  • Internationalization
  • Family influence
  • Non-family managers
  • Supervisory board
  • Advisory board

JEL Classification

  • C12
  • D82
  • F20