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Internationalization of family firms in a knowledge-based view


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  • Sami Basly

    (IRGO - Institut de Recherche en Gestion des Organisations - Université Montesquieu - Bordeaux IV)


Despite the profusion of studies concerning knowledge-based processes within the firm, rare studies tried to analyse them for the family business. Due to its specificities, this entity shows a particular behaviour as for the creation, development, sharing, protection and transmission of knowledge. Habbershon and Williams (1999) initiated the research aiming at the identification of the specific resources of the family firm. But, more than specific resources and capacities, the family firm mobilizes a collective tacit knowledge needed to integrate, coordinate and mobilize effectively its resources (Cabrera-Suarez and ali., 2002). The specificity of mechanisms of learning and knowledge management within the family firms are justified by:- First, the overlapping of "family" and "company" spheres: the family sphere realizes a unique contribution because it constitutes a supplementary source of knowledge inbound to the company compared with a firm without family involvement, - Then, the frequency of the exchanges within the organization: the processes of exchange of piece of information and knowledge take place not only in the organizational context but also and especially in the family context. The family meetings constitute, for example, supplementary occasions of exchange and sharing of knowledge.The typical paternalistic management of the family firm which implies a centralization of power and decision allows the flexibility of the organization. But, at the same time, it influences the processes of learning and conversion of knowledge which are henceforth centred on the family sphere. The family holds the monopoly of the acquisition, sharing and transfer of knowledge within the organization. Taking advantage of its rights of decision and control, the family dominates the management of knowledge. Family firms weakly controlled by the family would behave differently and does not exclude sharing the activities of strategic knowledge management with outsiders. This sharing should have a beneficial effect on the construction and development of the knowledge base of the organization because of the variety and richness of contributions of the externals.The purpose of this paper is to study the specificities of the processes of knowledge creation and development in family firms. In family firms, three variables influence the processes of development of knowledge. The characteristics underlined by the literature as being specific to the small and medium-sized family firms are conservatism, independence orientation and social networking. We study particularly the influence of these characteristics on the development of the knowledge base in a context of internationalisation.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00168486.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Publication status: Published - Presented, Workshop on family firm management research, 2005, Jönköping, Sweden
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00168486

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Keywords: family business; internationalization; knowledge; organizational learning;


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  1. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kuran, Timur, 1988. "The tenacious past: Theories of personal and collective conservatism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 143-171, September.
  3. Paul Ellis, 2000. "Social Ties and Foreign Market Entry," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 31(3), pages 443-469, September.
  4. Knight, Gary A. & Liesch, Peter W., 2002. "Information internalisation in internationalising the firm," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 55(12), pages 981-995, December.
  5. Kent Eriksson & Jan Johanson & Anders Majkg�rd & D Deo Sharma, 1997. "Experimental Knowledge and Costs in the Internationalization Process," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 28(2), pages 337-360, June.
  6. Yli-Renko, H. & Autio, E. & Tontti, V., 2002. "Social capital, knowledge, and the international growth of technology-based new firms," International Business Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 279-304, June.
  7. Malone, Stewart & Jenster, Per, 1991. "Resting on your laurels: The plateauing of the owner-manager," European Management Journal, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 412-418, December.
  8. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicolás S., 1945-, 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Working papers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management 1523-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  9. Myers, Stewart C. & Majluf, Nicholas S., 1984. "Corporate financing and investment decisions when firms have information that investors do not have," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 187-221, June.
  10. Miller, Danny & Steier, Lloyd & Le Breton-Miller, Isabelle, 2003. "Lost in time: intergenerational succession, change, and failure in family business," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 513-531, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Sami Basly, 2006. "Propriete, Decision Et Strategie De L'Entreprise Familiale : Une Analyse Theorique," Post-Print, HAL halshs-00192818, HAL.


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