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Coexistence of Economic and Noneconomic Goals in Building Foreign Partner Relationships: Evidence from Small Finnish Family Firms

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Abstract

Attempts to explain the distinctive nature of family firms (FFs), including how noneconomic goals may dominate FFs’ strategic decision-making, are reflecting attention to the socioemotional wealth (SEW) perspective. Although FF research has discussed internationalisation as a strategic decision, we lack evidence on how FFs balance the economic and noneconomic (i.e. SEW) goals in their internationalisation. Specifically, since SEW manifests itself in relationships, and internationalisation requires relationship-building with partners—especially for small firms with limited resources—this study aims to explore whether SEW preservation restrains small FFs from building foreign partner relationships (FPRs) for internationalisation. To provide answers to the question, the author undertook a multiple-case study of eight small Finnish FFs. The findings suggest that firms with higher levels of SEW were more active in building close FPRs. Thus, SEW preservation can extend to the international context, with foreign partners included in the ‘scope of SEW preservation’, as part of an extended international family. However, utilising attributes of different SEW dimensions requires concurrent awareness and implementation of economic goals. As a result, economic and noneconomic (SEW) goals coexist and interact in the internationalisation of small FFs. The paper concludes by presenting implications and propositions for future research.

Keywords

Socioemotional wealth Internationalisation International networking Foreign partner relationship Small family firm 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LUT UniversityLappeenrantaFinland

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