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

Bauweraerts Jonathan, Sciascia Salvatore, Mazzola Pietro

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