How do boards of directors contribute to family SME export intensity? The role of formal and informal governance mechanisms
Internationalization is a strong challenge that firms have to face today. However, small and medium-sized family firms internationalize their business after consolidating their position in domestic markets. Family SMEs approach international markets usually through export activities. Considerable academic attention has been given to family SME export behaviour, however, the debate is still inconclusive. Therefore, more attention on family SME unique governance mechanisms may shed a new light on this issue. The paper analyses family SME export intensity by showing how the board of directors could provide assistance in the selection and implementation of this strategy. We explore whether, and to what extent, both formal and informal features of boards of directors (dual governance) influence family SME export intensity. This is explored in a sample of 101 Norwegian family SMEs. Export intensity is the dependent variable and hypotheses on the positive effect of independence in board behaviour (formal governance mechanism), relational norms and trust (informal governance mechanisms) are supported. The paper has substantial theoretical contributions and practical implications. The results show that formal and informal governance mechanisms can co-exist complementing and supplementing each other, thus positively influencing family SME export intensity. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2013
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