International Business Decision-Making in Family Small and-Medium-Sized Enterprises




Family Firms, International Business, Decision-Making, SMEs


Family firm internationalization has become a topic of interest over the last few decades. However, there has been surprisingly little research about the actual international business decision-making in the family firm literature. The purpose of this article is to highlight specific family firm factors which affect the international business decision-making. Based on examples on international market entry, target market choice, entry mode choice, and entry timing decisions, it is suggested that long-term and regional orientation, knowledge-base and its transfer, bifurcation-bias, and perseverance of family managers are important factors affecting international business decision-making among family SMEs.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


Aharoni, Y., Tihanyi, L., & Connelly, B. L. (2011). Managerial decision-making in international business: A forty-five-year retrospective. Journal of World Business, 46(2), 135-142.

Ahi, A., Baronchelli, G., Kuivalainen, O., & Piantoni, M. (2017). International market entry: how do small and medium-sized enterprises make decisions? Journal of International Marketing, 25(1), 1-21.

Arregle, J. L., Chirico, F., Kano, L., Kundu, S. K., Majocchi, A., & Schulze, W. S. (2021). Family firm internationalization: Past research and an agenda for the future. Journal of International Business Studies, 1-40.

Boellis, A., Mariotti, S., Minichilli, A., & Piscitello, L. (2016). Family involvement and firms’ establishment mode choice in foreign markets. Journal of International Business Studies, 47(8), 929-950.

Bullough, A., & Renko, M. (2013). Entrepreneurial resilience during challenging times. Business Horizons, 56(3), 343-350.

Bullough, A., Renko, M., & Myatt, T. (2014). Danger zone entrepreneurs: The importance of resilience and self–efficacy for entrepreneurial intentions. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 38(3), 473-499.

Casillas, J. C., Moreno, A. M., & Acedo, F. J. (2010). Internationalization of Family Businesses: A Theoretical Model Based on International Entrepreneurship Perspective. Global Management Journal, 2(2).

Chetty, S., Ojala, A., & Leppäaho, T. (2015). Effectuation and foreign market entry of entrepreneurial firms. European Journal of Marketing.

Child, J., & Hsieh, L. H. (2014). Decision mode, information and network attachment in the internationalization of SMEs: A configurational and contingency analysis. Journal of world Business, 49(4), 598-610.

Coviello, N. (2006). The network dynamics of international new ventures. Journal of International Business Studies, 37(5), 713-731.

D’Angelo, A., Majocchi, A., & Buck, T. (2016). External managers, family ownership and the scope of SME internationalization. Journal of World Business, 51(4), 534-547.

Davis, J., Frankforter, S., Vollrath, D. and Hill, V. (2007). An empirical test of stewardship theory. Journal of Business and Leadership: Research, Practice and Teaching, 3(1), 40–50.

Debicki, B. J., Kellermanns, F. W., Chrisman, J. J., Pearson, A. W. and Spencer, B. A. (2016). Development of a socioemotional wealth importance (SEWi) scale for family firm research. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 7(1), 47-57.

Fernández, Z., & Nieto, M. J. (2005). Internationalization strategy of small and medium-sized family businesses: Some influential factors. Family Business Review, 18(1), 77-89.

Gabrielsson, P., & Gabrielsson, M. (2013). A dynamic model of growth phases and survival in international business-to-business new ventures: The moderating effect of decision-making logic. Industrial Marketing Management, 42(8), 1357-1373.

Gallo, M. A., & Pont, C. G. (1996). Important factors in family business internationalization. Family Business Review, 9(1), 45-59.

Gomez?Mejia, L. R., Campbell, J. T., Martin, G., Hoskisson, R. E., Makri, M. and Sirmon, D. G. (2014). Socioemotional wealth as a mixed gamble: Revisiting family firm R&D investments with the behavioral agency model. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 38(6), 1351-1374.

Gómez-Mejía, L. R., Haynes, K. T., Núñez-Nickel, M., Jacobson, K. J., & Moyano-Fuentes, J. (2007). Socioemotional wealth and business risks in family-controlled firms: Evidence from Spanish olive oil mills. Administrative Science Quarterly, 52(1), 106-137.

Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Patel, P. C. and Zellweger, T. M. (2018). In the horns of the dilemma: Socioemotional wealth, financial wealth, and acquisitions in family firms. Journal of Management, 44(4), 1369-1397.

Hambrick, D. C., Misangyi, V. F., & Park, C. A. (2015). The quad model for identifying a corporate director’s potential for effective monitoring: Toward a new theory of board sufficiency. Academy of Management Review, 40(3), 323-344.

Ji, J., & Dimitratos, P. (2013). An empirical investigation into international entry mode decision-making effectiveness. International Business Review, 22(6), 994-1007.

Johanson J., Vahlne J-E. (1977). The internationalization process of the firm: a model of knowledge development and increasing foreign market commitments. Journal of International Business Studies, 8, 23–32.

Jorge, M., Couto, M., Veloso, T., & Franco, M. (2017). When family businesses go international: management sets the path. Journal of Business Strategy, 38(1), 31-38.

Kano, L., & Verbeke, A. (2018). Family firm internationalization: Heritage assets and the impact of bifurcation bias. Global Strategy Journal, 8(1), 158-183.

Knight, G. A. and Cavusgil, S. T. (2004). Innovation, organizational capabilities, and the born-global firm. Journal of International Business Studies. 35(2), 124-141.

Kogut, B., & Zander, U. (1992). Knowledge of the firm, combinative capabilities, and the replication of technology. Organization Science, 3(3), 383-397.

Kogut, B., & Zander, U. (1993). Knowledge of the firm and the evolutionary theory of the multinational corporation. Journal of International Business Studies, 24(4), 625-645.

Kontinen, T., & Ojala, A. (2012). Internationalization pathways among family?owned SMEs. International Marketing Review. 29(5), 496-518.

Mariotti, S., Marzano, R., & Piscitello, L. (2021). The role of family firms’ generational heterogeneity in the entry mode choice in foreign markets. Journal of Business Research, 132, 800-812.

Metsola, J., Leppäaho, T., Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, E., & Plakoyiannaki, E. (2020). Process in family business internationalisation: The state of the art and ways forward. International Business Review, 29(2), 101665.

Miller, D., Le Breton-Miller, I. and Scholnick, B. (2008). Stewardship vs. stagnation: an empirical comparison of small family and non-family businesses. Journal of Management Studies, 45(1), 51–78.

Musso, F., & Francioni, B. (2020). The strategic decision-making process for the internationalization of family businesses. Sinergie Italian Journal of Management, 38(2), 21-43.

Mustakallio, M., Autio, E., & Zahra, S. A. (2002). Relational and contractual governance in family firms: Effects on strategic decision making. Family Business Review, 15(3), 205-222.

Nummela, N., Saarenketo, S., Jokela, P., & Loane, S. (2014). Strategic decision-making of a born global: A comparative study from three small open economies. Management International Review, 54(4), 527-550.

Okoroafo, S. C. (1999). Internationalization of family businesses: Evidence from Northwest Ohio, USA. Family Business Review, 12(2), 147-158.

Petrou, A. P., Hadjielias, E., Thanos, I. C., & Dimitratos, P. (2020). Strategic decision-making processes, international environmental munificence and the accelerated internationalization of SMEs. International Business Review, 29(5), 101735.

Sarasvathy, S. D. (2001). Causation and effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency. Academy of management Review, 26(2), 243-263.

Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G. (2004). A clinical approach to posttraumatic growth. Positive Psychology in Practice, 405.

Zahra, S. A., Hayton, J. C. and Salvato, C. (2004). Entrepreneurship in family vs. non–family firms: A resource–based analysis of the effect of organizational culture. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 28(4), 363-381.

Zahra, S. A., Korri, J. S., & Yu, J. F. (2005). Cognition and international entrepreneurship: Implications for research on international opportunity recognition and exploitation. International Business Review, 14(2), 129–146.




How to Cite

Metsola, J., & Kuivalainen, O. (2021). International Business Decision-Making in Family Small and-Medium-Sized Enterprises. European Journal of Family Business, 11(2).



Perspective article

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.