Internationalization of Small Indian Family-Firms: An Emergent Theory



Fast-growing emerging economies like India present interesting contexts to study internationalization of small family-firms faced with lucrative domestic opportunities of high growth rates, amidst global challenges posed by protectionism and adverse geopolitical factors. Based on a case study of eight small Indian family-firms, we present an integrated model of small family-firm internationalization in fast-growing emerging economies, incorporating environmental state and change variables and family factors (family capabilities and liabilities and economic and non-economic goals), which together shape the family-firm’s ability and willingness to internationalize. The ‘ability-willingness’ framework is used to explain various internationalization pathways, as also internationalization decisions following a processual approach. We find evidence of two additional internationalization pathways to those found in extant theory. ‘Cohesive’ pathways involve a planned and structured concurrent expansion of these small family-firms in domestic and international markets in a manner that leads to limited internationalization. The strong home-country pull, compared to host-country pull, together with specific family-firm characteristics and goals, shapes such pathways. Other small family-firms, even erstwhile ‘born global’, when faced with strong host-country push and specific family factors, may reverse their internationalization journey leading to de-internationalization pathways. Finally, ethnic nationalism as a non-economic family factor may affect sustainability of internationalization.


Cohesive internationalization pathways De-internationalization pathways Ethnic nationalism Indian small family-firm internationalization Integrative model of fast-growing emerging economy small family-firm internationalization Internationalization process 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.S.P. Jain Institute of Management and ResearchMumbaiIndia

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