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When Family Businesses Go International: Management Sets the Path

Jorge, M., M. Couto, T. Veloso, M. Franco (2017), "When Family Businesses Go International: Management Sets the Path", Journal of Business Strategy, 38(1), 31-38.

The purpose of this study is to understand the characteristics and decision processes of small- and medium-sized family firms (FSMEs) regarding the internationalization process.


For this purpose, the authors decided on a qualitative approach and performed exploratory case studies of two small- and medium-sized firms (SMEs) in Portugal, one family and the other non-family.


The authors found that the internationalization of FSME is not entirely explained by gradual processes of commitment to international markets. Restricted access to resources (financial and human) is compensated for by specific factors of FSMEs.

Practical implications

This study shows the relevance of FSME management for the process that seems to be at the basis of the commitment to, and success in international markets, concerning both the risk taken on and its cultural mentality.


Although family firms are many in number and central in the dynamics of the world economy, the family factor has not been approached as a determinant characteristic in the internationalization process. This holds particularly for the realm of FSMEs.