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The “Unwritten Will” in Interpersonal Network Ties: Founder Legacy and International Networking of Family Firms in History

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Abstract

In this study, we explore the role of interpersonal network ties in the context of internationalizing family firms. Through two historical cases—Alhström and Serlachius—we study how the founder-entrepreneurs’ domestic and international identity-based and calculative ties emerged and further evolved within and across country borders in the transitional incumbent–successor context. By using a longitudinal qualitative approach, we were able to build on the notions of “social legacy” of founders in family firms in conjunction with their interpersonal networks and the cultivation or disruption of the more or less embedded ties by their successors over an intergenerational period of time. Our contribution is found in illustrating how the different types of interpersonal network ties of the two founder-entrepreneurs embedded in historical contingencies together worked as the mechanism endorsing the founders’ “social legacies” in the successor generations’ international networking. On the basis of our findings, we introduce the concept of international networking legacy, which becomes considered by the next generation as either an advantage or a disadvantage for their own approaches to international networking.

Keywords

Interpersonal network ties Family firm internationalization International networking Founder legacy 

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© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business and ManagementLUT UniversityLappeenrantaFinland
  2. 2.LUT UniversityLappeenrantaFinland
  3. 3.Department of Strategy and EntrepreneurshipBI Norwegian Business SchoolOsloNorway
  4. 4.House of InnovationStockholm School of EconomicsStockholmSweden
  5. 5.Lancaster University Management SchoolLancasterUK

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