Family firms play a very important role in today’s international markets, especially because, among small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), they cover a high percentage in different European countries (e.g., Donckels and Frohlich, 1991; Surdej and Wach, 2012). During the years there was a growing interest on family firms’ internationalization (e.g., Graves and Thomas, 2008; Pukall and Calabrò, 2014). Some authors focused on discovering which variables influence the international expansion (Gallo and Sveen, 1991; Gallo and Garçia Pont, 1996; Zucchella et al., 2007; Calabrò et al., 2016). However, the majority of contributions have been concentrated on gradual/step-by-step/Uppsala model type internationalization (Graves and Thomas, 2008; Kontinen and Ojala, 2010), while few studies have been tailored on born global family firms (Wach, 2014). The principal aim of this study is to examine how family firm’s characteristics and external factors can enable or limit the internationalization process of born global firms. To achieve our objective, we decided to adopt a multiple case study. Data were mainly collected through in-depth, face-to-face interviews with owners from two Italian born global firms located in Marche region. For data triangulation, we also collected data and information from other sources, such as annual reports, firms’ homepage, and other documents (Vissak and Francioni, 2013). For examining the different aspects and factors influencing the internationalization of these firms, we decided to create a more comprehensive framework based on Gallo and Garçia Pont scheme (1996). In details, we considered three categories: strategic factors, family firms’ organization characteristics, and top management features. All categories have been divided into elastic and rigid variables. Preliminary results showed that variables stimulating the internationalization process were mainly related to the owners’ backgrounds and their past work experiences. Moreover, the presence of other businesses run by either the entrepreneur or his family members, for which relationships with foreign markets were already established, allowed growing up rapidly in international markets. Similarly, family members living abroad provided effective support in the search for foreign customers and made a valuable contribution to the firm’s international expansion. Furthermore, although the entrepreneur was the main decision-maker in the majority of international strategic decisions, other family members showed a similar approach, to that of the entrepreneur, towards international activities. With specific reference to entry barriers, they were mainly associated with import rules and bureaucracy, and less with the family business characteristics. The paper represents just the beginning of an in-depth analysis through which understanding the dynamic of born global internationalization among family firms, but it is one of the first contributes to the studies of born global family firms.
Musso, F., Francioni, B., Masili, G. (2017). Born global family firms. In Demetris Vrontis Yaakov Weber Evangelos Tsoukatos (a cura di), Global and national business theories and practice: bridging the past with the future (pp. 2143-2144). NICOSIA : EuroMed Press.