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Family Business Internationalization: Challenges


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Title: Family Business Internationalization: Challenges

Family Business Internationalization Challenges
Jill Thomas University of Adelaide
  • What is a family business?
  • The family business as a system
  • Internationalization
  • Strategies resources
  • Structures practices for growth

  • Module 1
  • The family business Unique or not?
  • Module 2
  • The family business as an integrated system

  • Module 3
  • Internationalization Strategies and resources
  • Module 4
  • Structures practices for growth through

Case Study
  • Tavazo Co.
  • 3rd generation family business with origins in
  • Has undergone internationalization

Module 1
  • The Family Business Unique or Not?

Module Objectives
  • To explore what constitutes a family business
    if it differs from a non-family business
  • To appreciate the nature of family business its
    potential contribution to world economies through

What is a Family Business?
Family Business Towards a Definition
  • A family business is a synthesis of
  • Ownership control by two or more members of a
    family or a partnership of families
  • Family members exerting strategic influence on
    the management of the firm
  • Family relationships inside the firm
  • Succession within the family

Family Business A Working Definition
  • A family business is one where
  • A family controlled dominant coalition has shaped
    the vision that is being pursued
  • The intention or behavior is potentially
    sustainable across generations
  • (Chua et al., 1999)

  • No universally agreed upon definition
  • Process of increasing involvement in
    international markets (Susan, 2007)
  • A dynamic process explained by continuous
    interaction of state change variables
    (Johanson Vahlne, 2009)

Evolving Academy
  • Long history of family businesses existing
    (including archaeological evidence)!
  • Academic fields of entrepreneurship family
    business, however, are relatively new

Family Business World Economies (Poza, 2010)
  • Constitute 80-90 of businesses in the worlds
    developed economies
  • Generate 64 of US GDP (more than 75 in other
  • Employ 80 of US workforce (more than 85 of
    working population globally)

Family Business Examples
FBs Slow to Internationalize
Family vs. Non-Family Firm Performance
  • Evidence suggests a wide variation in performance
    of family businesses cf non-family businesses
  • Conflicting results due to variations in how
    family business is defined, location, industry
  • Makes comparison with non-family businesses

Family vs. Non-Family Firm Performance Contd
  • Founder-led (1st generation) firms found to have
    superior performance than both later generation
    non-family firms
  • Impact of later generation (2nd subsequent)
    management on performance is dependent on the era
    geographic context

  • Approx. 85 of entrepreneurial family owned
    businesses disappear in their first 5 years of
  • Among those that survive, only 30 are
    successfully transitioned to a 2nd generation
  • Only 12 survive to a 3rd generation

Succession Internationalization
  • Born again global used to describe a push by
    2nd later generations to internationalize their
    family businesses as a means of renewal (Kontinen
    Ojala, 2010)

How Are Non-Family Businesses Different?
  • Family and non-family firms differ on
  • Strategic Organizational Dimensions
  • Family Influence on the Firm

Strategic Organizational Dimensions
  • Different ownership structure
  • Overlap of family, ownership management
  • Competitive advantage derived from interaction of
    family, management ownership

Family Influence
  • Most important difference
  • Necessary to understand how the concerns of
    family members affect business decisions
  • Also need to understand how those decisions
    affect firm performance

Strengths of Family Business
  • Stable culture values
  • Balance tradition with innovation
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Flexibility
  • Practice long term thinking planning
  • Instill a stewardship approach

Challenges of Family Business
  • Resistance to change
  • Managing transitions succession
  • Raising capital
  • Emotional issues
  • Leadership

Family Influence on Internationalization
  • Mixed evidence (Arregle et al., 2012 Calabro et
    al., 2012)
  • Some scholars find a positive impact of family
    ownership on internationalization
  • Others argue that family-related factors have a
    negative impact
  • Finally, some scholars find no difference between
    internationalization practices of family vs.
    non-family businesses

Scholarly Findings (Kontinen Ojala, 2010)
  • FB owner-managers maximize revenue from certain
    foreign markets rather than pursue several
    markets at once
  • Networking has a positive impact on the amount of
    internationalization knowledge among family

Scholarly Findings Contd (Kontinen Ojala, 2010)
  • Three key determinants of family business
  • Level of commitment of family owners
  • Financial resources available
  • Ability to commit financial resources to develop
    the required capabilities (including recruitment
    of non-family managers to round out skill set
    related to internationalization)

Scholarly Findings Contd (Kontinen Ojala, 2010)
  • International joint ventures between family
    businesses are more likely to succeed than those
    between a family business a non-family business
  • Explained by shared values (even across cultures)
    which include trust, loyalty and preservation of
    the family

Reflection Discussion
  • Reflect on the strengths challenges of family
    businesses identified in this module and how
    applicable they are in your personal experience
  • Compare contrast to those present in the Case
    Study (Tavazo Co)

Reflection Discussion Contd
  • Reflect on the internationalization strategy
    outlined in the Tavazo Co Case Study
  • Which strengths of the firm will be beneficial to
  • What challenges may be problematic?

Module 2
  • The Family Business As An Integrated System

Module Objectives
  • To appreciate the contributions of overlapping
    systems of family, ownership the business
  • To appreciate the range of relationships which
    will be present in the family business how
    these can be satisfactorily balanced and managed
    to facilitate growth, innovation sustainability

Module Objectives Contd
  • To identify the developmental stages of the
    family, the business the ownership of the
  • To discuss the implications of these stages for
    expansion growth

Systems Theory
  • The family business is a dynamic system of
    varying interactions between family, management
    ownership subsystems
  • Individual perspectives of family the business
    may differ
  • MAY lead to an overemphasis on one sub-system at
    the expense of the others

Systems Theory Model
Three Circle Models Range of Stakeholders(Gersic
k et al., 1997)
  1. A family member who is not working in the
    business and has no ownership stake (may include
    children in-laws)
  2. An owner/shareholder who does not work in the
    business and is not a family member

Range of Stakeholders Contd
  1. An employee, not a member of the family
  2. An owner, not an employee but a member of the
    founding family
  3. An owner working in the business but not a member
    of the family

Range of Stakeholders Contd
  1. A family member working in the business, a member
    of the family but without any ownership
  2. A family member, working in the business with
    some ownership

Blurred System Boundaries
  • Boundaries among family, ownership management
    systems may become blurred
  • May result in diminished problem solving ability
  • Difficult to determine if decisions relate to
    family, ownership or management issues
  • Where are our priorities?

A Balancing Act(Carlock Ward, 2001)
  • Overemphasis on the business erodes
  • Family communications
  • Family values
  • Family time
  • Family loyalty
  • Family personal identification
  • Overemphasis on the family erodes
  • Business communications
  • Business relations
  • Business performance
  • Business decisions
  • Business strategy

  • Too family oriented
  • IF family owners/managers dont delegate the
    management of relationships with international
    partners to nonfamily managers, they may suffer
  • Too business oriented
  • IF alliances are formed purely for monetary gain,
    the values culture of the family may not be
    aligned with international partners

Reflection Discussion
  • What are some of the indicators in the Tavazo Co
    case that help you appreciate the value of
    considering the family business to operate as a

Reflection Discussion Contd
  • How balanced do you consider Tavazo Co to be in
    its current (3rd) generation of management?
  • Is it more business oriented? Family oriented?
  • Is some change of the organization necessary if
    future growth and increased internationalization
    are to be achieved?

Not Homogenous
  • Family business is not a homogenous sector
  • Operate across all industries include different
    levels of family ownership involvement

Three Dimensional Developmental Model (Gersick et
al., 1997)
  • Model used as a framework to explore challenges
    opportunities for family businesses at different
    stages of development
  • Modeled over three axes
  • Ownership
  • Family
  • Business

Three Dimensional Developmental Model (Gersick et
al., 1997)
Ownership Dimension
  • Family business ownership over time will
    generally move from
  • Owner/founders as controlling owners
  • Sibling partnerships

Cousin consortiums
Challenges to Ownership Subsystem Controlling
  • Capital from savings and sweat equity
  • Can access funds unencumbered funds from family
    but often emotional strings attached
  • Handling consequences of ownership concentration
  • Need input from others as business grows
  • Clarity of direction but beware of dependency on
    single owner

Challenges to Ownership Subsystem Sibling
  • Need to develop process for sharing control with
    each other
  • Need to define role of unemployed owners
  • Need to determine a process of retaining capital
  • Need to control potential factions in family

Challenges to Ownership Subsystem Cousin
  • Managing growth complexity of shareholder group
    of 3rd generation on
  • Cousin relationships may be less intense
  • Greater spread of interests developmental
  • May be concentration of siblings from one branch
    of family
  • Need to distinguish management ownership roles
  • Important to articulate options for withdrawal

Investments in Ownership Subsystem
  • Essential to preserve propensity to manage with a
    long-term horizon
  • Means investing in
  • Appropriate ownership control structure
  • Education, information engagement of
  • Systems processes governing the ownership-firm
    interaction (see Module 4)

Non-financial Motives
  • Socio-emotional wealth (SEW)
  • Family businesses motivated by more than
    financial return wish to build their
    socio-emotional wealth achieved through those
  • Socio-emotional wealth being those non-financial
    aspects of the firm that meet the familys
    affective/emotional needs, such as identity, the
    ability to exercise family influence, and the
    perpetuation of the family dynasty (Berrone, Cruz
    Gomez-Meja, 2012)
  • Internationalization SEW
  • Owners might therefore pursue internationalization
    to enhance SEW

Importance of SEW for Internationalization
  • Gomez-Meja et al. (2007)
  • To avoid losing their SEW, family businesses may
    be risk willing and risk averse simultaneously
  • Internationalization strategy
  • Family businesses may be willing to give up some
    control to preserve or enhance SEW by enabling
    next generation

Reflection Discussion
  • In your view, to what extent will the current
    sibling partnership help or hinder growth in
    Tavazo Co?
  • What options can you suggest if one brother does
    not support growth while the others do?

Business Dimension
  • Three key components
  • Start-up
  • Expansion/Formalization
  • Maturity

Business Dimension Challenges
  • Start-up
  • Survival
  • Rational analysis vs. dream
  • Expansion/Formalization
  • Evolving owner/manager role
  • Professionalizing the business
  • Integrating non-family managers

Business Dimension Challenges Contd
  • Expansion/Formalization contd
  • Strategic planning (especially for
  • Managing cash flow
  • Maturity
  • Strategic re-focus as required
  • Management ownership commitment
  • Re-investment

Family Circumstances
  • Young business family often too busy building
    the business to worry about internationalization
  • Examples
  • Fords 2nd generation (Edsel Ford) was the
    catalyst for international expansion
  • Puigs 2nd generation acted to internationalize

Family Dimension
  • Young Business Family
  • Entering the Business
  • Working Together
  • Passing the Baton

Family Dimension Challenges
  • Young Business Family
  • Creating a workable marriage
  • Delineating relationships between work family
  • Raising children
  • Entering the Business
  • Individuation of young children
  • Decision about early career opportunities

Family Dimension Challenges
  • Working Together
  • Fostering communication co-operation
  • Establishing processes for dealing with conflict
  • Managing up to 3 generations working together
  • Passing the Baton
  • Letting go establishing smooth transfer

  • Lets consider the implications of this
    complexity of the family business for its
    prospects for internationalization

Traditional IB Stage Theory (Uppsala Model)
  • Firms enter foreign markets successively as they
    become older larger
  • Firms gradually increase their commitment to
    foreign markets
  • Firms enter proximate countries first
  • Emphasize learning through experience

IB Stage Theory (Uppsala Model) Contd
  • This traditional theory has recently challenged
    born globals (i.e. firms which have a global
    focus from the beginning)
  • FBs often follow the basics of the Uppsala Model
    domestically then slowly evolve to do business
  • FBs likely to do business in countries that are
    geographically /or culturally similar

Early Effective Internationalization
Environmental Factors Firm-Level Factors Mgt-Level Factors
Transportation communication advances Innovativeness International experience and/or orientation
Openness of economies Partnerships Commitment to internationalisation
Size growth of market (domestic, foreign) Learning capacity Few perceived barriers to internationalisation
Competition (domestic, foreign) External ownership
Things To Consider
  • In some cases, imperative exists to
    internationalize immediately, as domestic markets
    are too small to be viable (eg. High tech sectors
    in AUS CAN)
  • Born globals can avoid developing a domestic
    mindset, which can lead to inertia

Internationalization Ownership Structures
  • Different ownership structures possible
  • Levis Strauss
  • Owned by descendants of Strauss but no family
    members are employed
  • Puig
  • Ownership is at the cousin consortium stage
    with family closely involved in management

Shared Ownership
  • Can be a plus
  • Family SMEs who share ownership with some
    corporate entities who have a block of shares are
    more likely to compete internationally as they
    draw on that corporate for resources utilize
    some professionalized structures which help to
    minimize conflicts of interest within the family
    firm (Zahra et al., 2005)

Reflection Discussion
  • Identify where Tavazo Co is along the three axes
    of the Gersick et al. Three Dimension
    Developmental model
  • Discuss the particular challenges for growth
    internationalization they now have as a family
    owned (sibling partnership) managed business

Module 3
  • Internationalization Strategies Resources

Module Objectives
  • To consider the implications of a growth (or no
    growth) strategy of the family business
  • To understand basic principles of the strategic
    planning process in the family business context
    if internationalization is pursued
  • To understand the case for against

To Grow Or Not To Grow?
  • What influences growth strategies in a family
    business (local, national /or international)?
  • Family values
  • Degree of control
  • Exit strategy

Reasons for Growth Avoidance
  • Maintain family control of the business
  • Perception that family control will be lost past
    a certain point of growth

Growing Pains
  • Not enough hours in the day
  • Spend too much time putting out fires
  • Confusion over who is responsible for what
  • Lack of clarity of where the business is headed

Growing Pains Contd
  • Too few good managers, lack of trust delegation
    of authority
  • Strategic plans are made but soon gather dust
  • The business may have experienced growth in sales
    but not in profits

Why Internationalize?
  • Potential benefits of internationalization are
    well documenting, including
  • Exploitation of owner-specific advantages
  • Efficiencies derived from integrating operations
  • Ability to take advantage of host countries
    sources of competitive advantages (eg. labor
  • Utilization of networks developed

Power of Networking
  • networking has been crucial, I mean, John is
    the sole distributor for us in Sweden. He was
    introduced to us by a family-owned company in
    Australia. We looked after John, and he told all
    his mates all the way around Europe about how
    good our company was. Its been 10 years since
    meeting John at the international trade fair, and
    hes responsible for 40 of this companys
    exports. Crucial.
  • Quote from an Australian plastics manufacturer
  • (Graves Thomas, 2007)

The Case Against
  • Families usually wish to retain control fear
    losing it
  • Important to evaluate culture of potential
    partners to ensure both sides can work together
  • Overlap of family management governance is a
    double edged sword
  • Provides flexibility but can block progress if no
    formal systems are in place

Pros Cons of FB Internationalization (Graves,
  • Financial Outcomes
  • Non-Financial Outcomes
  • Financial performance
  • Sales asset growth
  • Survival
  • Risk management
  • Increased value of firm
  • Strain on financial resources
  • Effect on domestic market share
  • Losses from competitor imitation
  • Overall competitiveness
  • Global perspective
  • Knowledge/experience
  • Managerial capabilities
  • Production capabilities
  • Brand image/reputation
  • Enjoyment/satisfaction
  • Strain on family/management
  • Conflict

Competitive Environment
  • As families grow as the business is expected to
    cater to more owners, there is often a
    re-evaluation of the focus of the family business
  • New markets will be contemplated just as
    families evolve, so the business cannot
    remain static

Competitive Environment Contd
  • New methods, new expertise may be required
  • Strategic planning is required
    internationalization is one avenue to achieve

Strategic Planning
  • Requires
  • A new level of communication among family members
  • Ample financial market information
  • Building on the different perspectives
    predictable disagreements across generations

Key Questions for Strategic Planning
  • What business(es) are we in?
  • Are we equipped to do this effectively?
  • Does this need to change?
  • What will our goals be?
  • How will we achieve these?
  • What resources do we need to achieve our new

Specific Issues To Consider
  • Production capacity
  • Do we have the capacity to grow the business?
  • Do we have the right products at the right price
    for the international marketplace?

Specific Issues To Consider Contd
  • What organizational capabilities need
  • International business networks the role of
    family members
  • Managerial capabilities to manage growth
  • Marketing capabilities
  • Outside expertise
  • Delegating authority

Disciplined Execution
  • Strategy in the family business context is guided
  • The owners vision for the future
  • Legacy derived from the firms competencies
  • Both insulate the process from chaos and loss of

Disciplined Execution Contd
  • Wide consultation is a plus
  • Craft a strategy from accumulated wisdom of the
    current generation, the dreams aspirations of
    the next generation
  • Loyalty to ones customers leads to innovation
    growth for the business across generations
  • Planning change takes time resources

Reflection Discussion
  • In your view, to what extent have strategically
    focused questions been addressed in the case of
    Tavazo Co as they consider future international

Module 4
  • Structures Practices For Growth Through

Module Objectives
  • To explore the resources necessary to effect an
    internationalization strategy
  • To consider why ownership structures that work
    well in one generation often prove ineffective in
    later generations
  • To consider what governance structures will be
    important if a family business is to pursue an
    internationalization strategy

Owner-Firm Relationship
  • The interaction between ownership, family
    management can be a source of competitive
  • It can however ALSO be the biggest challenge
    faced by family firms, hence the need for
    effective governance of the shareholder-firm

Owner-Firm Relationship Contd
  • To effectively pursue an internationalization
    strategy, owners must ensure that
  • They harness appropriate resources
  • They establish relevant structures practices
    for governance

Structures Plans (Gersick et al., 1997)
Plans Succession plan Contingency plan
Structure Shareholders Meetings
Plans Estate plans
Constitution Shareholders Agreement
Structure Family Council/Forum Plan Family Plan
Structure Board of Directors
Management Team Plans Strategic Plan
Business Plan
Family Business Governance
  • At a minimum, FBs will benefit from looking at
    options to encourage discussion amongst family
    members on desired directions for the business
  • More developed family governance might include
    the formation of a family forum/council
  • Also options to formalize discussion at the
    business level (i.e. a board of directors
    formalization of the management team)

Formalize Board
  • FB firms need to recognize inherent trade-offs
    associated with maintaining greater family
    control vs. successful implementation of
    internationalization strategy (Singla et al.,
  • If FB is pursing internationalization, partners
    will look to governance practices

Management Team
  • Guidelines for membership in the management team
    and individuals roles should be clear
  • Particularly important if there is a non-family
    manager responsible for international operations

Formalization of Policy
  • FB employment policy needs to guide employment of
    family members
  • Do you want family members to gain experience
    elsewhere before joining the family business?
  • What are the expectations for tertiary education?
  • Performance of employed family members should be
    reviewed in the same way as that of non-family

Managing Family Expectations
  • Have you had a dialogue to clarify the familys
    commitment to family business continuity?
  • Some family members will wish to become
    employees, others may do their own thing but wish
    to be involved as be responsible shareholders
  • At family gatherings, are conversations about
    both family business acceptable, or should they
    be separated?

Reflection Discussion
  • To what extent do you believe that Tavazo Co is
  • What needs attention/development if they wish to
    internationalize further?
  • What governance structures will be
    useful/necessary if Tavazo Co is to expand

Theoretical Lens Resource-Based View (RBV)
  • RBV highlights the unique capabilities or
    resources that family firms convert into a
    competitive advantage through resources being
  • Valuable
  • Rare
  • Imperfectly imitable
  • Non-substitutable

RBV Internationalization
  • RBV suggests that firm-level factors (i.e. human
    social capital, organizational size) form a
    competitive advantage, which drives a firm to
    consider internationalizing entering foreign
  • Is your FB ready to internationalize?
  • How will you select the international market you
    wish to participate in?

RBV Enablers of Internationalization (Oviatt
McDougall, 1994 Knight Cavusgil, 2004)
  • Obvious enablers of effective internationalization
  • Family managers experience (both locally
  • Networks formed by the family
  • If family members do not have the expertise to
    internationalize, are they willing to recruit
    outside the family?

Uniqueness of Resources Attributes (Sirmon
Hitt, 2003, p. 345)
Focal Family Firms Focal Family Firms
Resource Definition Positive Negative Nonfamily Firms
Human Capital Acquired knowledge, skills capabilities of a person Extraordinary commitment warm, friendly, intimate relationships potential for deep firm-specific tacit knowledge Difficult to attract retain highly qualified managers path dependencies Not characterized by the positives, but have fewer limitations
Social Capital Resources embedded in network, accessed through relationships Components embedded in family legitimacy with constituencies enhanced development of human capital Limited number of networks accessed often excluded from elite networks (i.e. Fortune 500 CEOs) Networks can be more diverse maybe opportunistic in accessing and leveraging sometimes used for managers benefit agency costs
Patient Financial Capital Invested financial capital without threat of liquidation Generational outlook not accountable to strict short-term results effective management of capital allows pursuit of creative innovative strategies Nonfamily investors excluded limited to availability of familys financial capital Largely do not have the benefits or limitations
Survivability Capital Pooled personal resources family members loan, contribute share with business Helps sustain the business during poor economic times or redevelopment of the business safety net Not all family firms have it Do not enjoy due to lack of commitment by employees stakeholders
Governance Structure Costs Costs associated with control of the firm examples include incentives, monitoring controls Family owned operated firms structures, trust, family bonds reduce governance costs Some family firms may not have an effective structure, trust strong family bonds, thereby producing greater governance costs Professional management capital diversification often increase governance costs
Reflection Discussion
  • Using the table on the previous slide, other
    aspects of the previous modules, identify the
    current strengths of Tavazo Cos resources that
    will be useful to effect an internationalization
  • Think about human, social, financial factors

Reflection Discussion Contd
  • To what extent do you consider the family talent
    needs to be augmented with non-family management
    if further international growth is to be
  • How does the Tavazo brothers view that at least
    one brother needs to be geographically located in
    the international markets they target affect
    their ability to further internationalize?

Reflection Discussion Contd
  • How might the human social capital of Tavazo Co
    be affected if growth internationally is
    dependent on recruitment of non-family management?

  • Amit, R. and Villalonga, B. (2014). Financial
    Performance of Family Firms, Chapter 9, In Sage
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    Family-Controlled Firms A Study of the Effects
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References Contd
  • Claver, E., Rienda, L., Quer, D. 2009. Family
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