Sales internationalization of small- and medium-sized family firms: family leadership as a double-edged sword

Research on family firm internationalization has been growing in the last years. After an initial interest in understanding why family firms are less prone to internationalize than their non-family counterparts (e.g. Donckels and Frohlich, 1991; Gallo and Garcia-Pont, 1996; Graves and Thomas, 2006; Gomez-Mejia, Makri, and Lazarra-Kintana, 2010; Kuo et al., 2012; Patel, Pieper, and Hair, 2012; Piva, Rossi-Lamastra, and De Massis, 2013), scholars began to account for the heterogeneity of family firms and investigate how different forms of family involvement in the firm governance (i.e. in ownership, board, leadership and management) affect internationalization (for literature reviews see Kontinen and Ojala, 2010; Pukall and Calabrò, 2014). However, research efforts were focused on understanding the influence of family involvement in ownership (e.g. Arrègle et al., 2012; Sanchez-Bueno and Usero, 2014), board of directors (e.g. Calabrò, Mussolino, and Huse, 2009; Sciascia et al., 2013), management team (e.g. Zahra, 2003; Fernandez and Nieto, 2005, 2006; Claver, Rienda, and Quer, 2009) or a combination of them (e.g. Mitter et al., 2014), while the effects of a family CEO (i.e. family involvement in leadership) were largely ignored and research efforts have led to conflicting results (Naldi and Nordqvist 2008; Arrègle et al., 2012; Majocchi and Strange, 2012). Understanding if a family CEO may increase the possibilities to internationalize is crucial to appoint the most appropriate strategic leader to run the business when internationalization is a critical success factor. […]

Key-Words: Entrepreneurship and Family Business


The role of CFO in family owned businesses: a literature review

This paper is intended to contribute to the debate on the role of professionalization in FBs. It is a positioning paper, whose main aim is to highlight the state of the art of literature and studies about family owned businesses, with regard to the role of professional managers, particularly the CFO. A detailed review of most significant theoretical streams is presented in order to outline the features, the drivers and the effect of the presence and role of CFO and professionalization, as well the impact on family business performance. In particular, through literature review, this study aims to identify the variables that explain the presence of the CFO in family firms; the impact of the CFO’s personal features, professional experiences, and role on the professionalization of family firms; the relationship between the role of CFO, the professionalization of the firm and its economic performance. The research arises from the evidence of a quite limited diffusion of professionalization processes in the Italian FBs, especially the SMEs. Entrepreneurship, which is considered a point of strength of SMEs, when joins up with a very poor professionalization can become a point of weakness. The significant importance of family-owned SMEs for Italian economy, along with the actual financial and competitive crisis, that has involved these enterprises, asks for more diffused professionalization processes, in terms of both governance and managerial mechanisms (especially strategic planning and management control systems – MCS) and professional managers. […]

Key-Words: Entrepreneurship and Family Business

Figure 1- Framework – Drivers of CFO’s role

Table 1- Review of literature on CFO in FBs


Going public as a driver to break the glass ceiling. Piquadro spa case history

The paper aims at tracing a connection between on one side studies and researches about glass ceiling and on the other side studies and researches about going public process. Many different works have been in fact already published about the two topics considering them separately, but it seems not yet investigated the specific link between the two. A qualitative empirical study is developed by considering a family Italian company acting in the fashion leather sector whose brand is Piquadro. ‎The company was founded no more than twenty years ago by an entrepreneur Mr. Marco Palmieri and has developed getting such a relevant dimension that it became necessary not to lose important opportunities to look for fresh money. Up to that special moment the company was structured as a SME which includes an organization based on a not sophisticated management and control systems. Key roles where reserved to family members which happened to be all men, but things were going to suddenly change. An evolution – or we can easily say a revolution – started first when a private equity fund decided to proudly finance the company’s growth as they pretended the introduction of new management tools and new performance measures. The second step was the decision to quote the company as it meant to improve the corporate governance introducing different levels of institutional controls and making women enter in top management positions.

Key-Words: Entrepreneurship and Family Business, going public, private equity, SMEs, glass ceiling, women on board, corporate governance, Piquadro



The Impact of Family Ownership on Investment Decisions

Despite a long stream of research on family businesses behavior and conduct, evidence on the heterogeneity of investment choices among family firms is yet quite unexplored. This study investigates the impact of family ownership on the firm’s investment decisions, examining the potential variations between the first and later generations of family firms. Our findings show that, generally, family-owned firms are less likely to undertake investment projects with respect to non-family firms. Nevertheless, we find that family member CEOs positively affects investment decisions, leading to higher investment expenditure. Moreover, we find that also the presence of a successor CEO has a positive effect on the level of investment expenditure although the impact is weaker.

Key-Words: Entrepreneurship and Family Business, Founder CEO, Family firm, Stewardship, Successor CEO, Investment Decisions

APPENDIX Variables Description

TABLE 1 – Sample Selection Process

TABLE 2 – Descriptive Statistics

TABLE 3 – Correlation Matrix

TABLE 4 – Regression of Capex on family ownership



One family-one vote? Rewarding family loyalty with multiple voting rights. First evidence from Italy

A significant issue in the corporate governance field arises from the separation of ownership and control, namely, when there is a deviation from the “one share-one vote” principle. Facebook, Google and Groupon are well-known examples of how a controlling shareholder can enhance his/her power with a limited share of equity capital using dual-class shares. Such shares allow their owners to hold a disproportionate amount of power relative to their equity ownership. These powerful instruments concentrate control in the hands of controlling shareholders. Although several studies of this phenomenon use the US as a research context (Saggese et al., 2015), Sweden ranks first in the use of dual class shares (La Porta et al., 2000). The one share-one vote principle is rooted in the notion that voting power should be proportional to economic risk. However, dual class shares are only one of several mechanisms that facilitate such deviation. Literature refers to Control-Enhancing Mechanisms (CEMs) to indicate such instruments. That is to say, CEMs are tools to deviate from the proportionality principle. In continental Europe, controlling shareholders often use several CEMs: pyramid structures, multiple control chains, multiple voting rights and cross shareholding (Zattoni and Cuomo, 2010). Such CEMs “are a source of agency costs in that they increase the private benefits of control and conflicts of interest and therefore may came at an expense for the non-controlling shareholders” (HLG, 2002, p.30). […]

Key-Words: Entrepreneurship and Family Business

Table 1 – Family firms’ characteristics

Table 2 – Shareholders’ meeting characteristics


Governing family businesses. A research map

Family owned businesses (FOBs) are a widespread form of enterprise across the world that faces specific challenges. The co-presence of family and non-family members, the alignment between family and business interests, the need to integrate the new generation’s view with the vision of the founder are just some examples of challenges that influence the performance and even the survival of a FOB. Family business scholars have considered these examples of challenges through the topics of professionalization and succession. The challenges of professionalization and succession can be usefully reduced to a search for alliances: between family and non-family members, for the challenges of professionalization; within family members, between the founder, the family organization and the future successors, for the challenges of succession. The search for alliances between the various aforementioned actors needs to be held in time for a FOB to survive; put it other ways, the search for alliances needs the construction of networks to be governed in time. Thus, governing a FOB cannot be reduced to the traditional domain of business governance, namely to a search for appropriate governance structures and incentive mechanisms aimed to align the owner’s and the management’s interests. Rather, governing FOBs needs to be conceived of as a continuous and dynamic search for composing the different interests of the actors mentioned above (van der Meer-Kooistra and Scapens, 2008), namely a continuous process of constructing networks of allies around professionalization and succession challenges. […]

Key-Words: Entrepreneurship and Family Business

Fig. 1 Conceptual framework


Did medium-sized family businesses perform better during the recent economic crisis? Empirical evidence from Italy

In today’s economic world, family businesses (FBs) are widely spread and they are a main actor in both industrialised and developing countries (European Family Businesses, EFB). In Italy, more than 85% of firms are FBs, and this value is in line with that of the main European countries (Spain, 83%; Germany, 90%; France, 80%; UK, 80%) (Aidaf, 2014). As a consequence, in business studies, there is a great interest in knowing the performance of these enterprises and reasons beyond them, in order to understand whether and how family ownership and control affect firms’ performance (Gallo, 2004; Allouche et al., 2008; Amann, Jaussaud, 2012; Basco, 2013; Minichilli, et al., 2015). The results from these studies, however, are not unequivocal (Enriques, Volpin, 2007; O’Boyle et al., 2012). Adopting the agency theory framework, some authors argue that FBs are more efficient than non-family business (NFBs), as in FBs few or no agency problems exist and agency costs are very low or nonexistent (Fama, Jensen, 1983). The strong involvement of family members in business ownership and management reduces the risk of opportunistic behaviour by managers and promotes the alignment of interests and objectives (Villalonga e Amit, 2006). In contrast with the more traditional view that FBs are free from agency problems, other scholars have observed that owner-manager and owner-owner problems (Villalonga and Amit, 2006) exist even in FBs and support the existence of a negative relationship between family ownership and company performance. Leading problems occurring in FBs include the pursuit of private benefits (Gómez-Mejía et al., 2001), entrenchment (Shleifer, Vishny, 1997), adverse selection (Lubatkin et al., 2005), nepotism and the consumption of unearned perks (Schulze et al., 2001). […]

Key-Words: Entrepreneurship and Family Business

Table 1 – Descriptive Statistics for Family and non Family Business

Table 2 – Comparative Performance- Family versus Non-Family Business

Table 3 – Comparative Financial Indipendence- Family versus Non-Family Business

Table 4 – Regression Analysis