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Internationalisation of the family business: a longitudinal perspective


  • Chris Graves
  • Jill Thomas


Australian family firms make a significant contribution to the Australian and global economy. Despite the fact that the complexities associated with managing a family business are not addressed by classical management theory, limited empirical research has documented the international expansion of family firms. Building upon the stage model theory, the network theory and the organisation capabilities perspective of internationalisation, this study examines whether family firms differ from non-family firms with regard to the propensity for and extent of their internationalisation. The results, arrived at by using the most recently available longitudinal database of Australian businesses, highlight that family firms are less likely to internationalise compared to non-family firms. Although an examination of internationalised firms found that the extent of internationalisation of family firms is less than that of non-family firms, this difference is not persistently significant over time. This suggests that there is no marked difference in the extent of internationalisation of internationalised family and non-family firms. The results also suggest that older and larger firms, committed to innovation, networking and an orientation towards growth, are more likely to internationalise their operations. Finally, compared to non-family firms, family firms are less likely to engage in networking with other businesses, more likely to exhibit growth profiles typical of lifestyle/traditional firms and be smaller in size. The implications of the findings for theory and practice, and opportunities for future research are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Graves & Jill Thomas, 2004. "Internationalisation of the family business: a longitudinal perspective," International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(1), pages 7-27.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijgsbu:v:1:y:2004:i:1:p:7-27

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    Cited by:

    1. J. Augusto Felício & Maria Purificación Galindo Villardón, 2015. "Family characteristics and governance of small and medium-sized family firms," Journal of Business Economics and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(6), pages 1069-1084, December.
    2. repec:eur:ejisjr:249 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Toledo, Arcelia & Hernández, José de la Paz & Griffin, Denis, 2010. "Incentives and the growth of Oaxacan subsistence businesses," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(6), pages 630-638, June.
    4. Desislava I. Yordanova, 2016. "Differences between Bulgarian Family and Non-family Businesses: A Multivariate Logit Approach," International Review of Management and Marketing, Econjournals, vol. 6(4), pages 779-789.
    5. repec:eee:jbrese:v:84:y:2018:i:c:p:301-311 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:spr:jglont:v:8:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1186_s40497-018-0104-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Raúl Serrano & Isabel Acero-Fraile & Natalia Dejo-Oricain, 2017. "Collaborative networks and export intensity in family firms: a quantile regression approach," Documentos de Trabajo dt2017-04, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad de Zaragoza.


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