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Family character and international entrepreneurship: A historical comparison of Italian and Spanish ‘new multinationals’


  • Andrea Colli
  • Esteban Garc�a-Canal
  • Mauro F. Guill�n


Although family firms are traditionally associated with low levels of internationalisation, this paper shows that family ownership can generate opportunities for international entrepreneurship related to the exploitation abroad of the expertise and social capital developed at home. Specifically, it argues that family character favours international expansion in at least three ways: (1) by granting more freedom to the managers of the company to develop their business model; (2) by facilitating the transfer to, and exploitation of, this model in foreign markets; and (3) by making the adoption of governance structures based upon trust easier. Drawing on a comparison between the business history of selected Spanish and Italian ‘new multinationals’, support is found for these hypotheses.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Colli & Esteban Garc�a-Canal & Mauro F. Guill�n, 2013. "Family character and international entrepreneurship: A historical comparison of Italian and Spanish ‘new multinationals’," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(1), pages 119-138, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:bushst:v:55:y:2013:i:1:p:119-138
    DOI: 10.1080/00076791.2012.687536

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jones, Geoffrey, 2004. "Multinationals and Global Capitalism: From the Nineteenth to the Twenty First Century," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199272105.
    2. Andrea Colli & Michelangelo Vasta, 2010. "Introduction: Forms of Enterprise in 20th Century Italy," Chapters, in: Andrea Colli & Michelangelo Vasta (ed.),Forms of Enterprise in 20th Century Italy, chapter 1, Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paweł Gajewski & Grzegorz Tchorek, 2017. "What drives export performance of firms in Eastern and Western Poland?," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(12), pages 2250-2271, December.
    2. repec:ise:gheswp:wp532014 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Mikel Alayo & Txomin Iturralde & Amaia Maseda & Gloria Aparicio, 0. "Mapping family firm internationalization research: bibliometric and literature review," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-44.
    4. Aleksandra Wąsowska, 2017. "The Internationalisation of Family Firms: the Role of the Ownership Structure and the Composition of Top Management Team," Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, Centre for Strategic and International Entrepreneurship at the Cracow University of Economics., vol. 5(1), pages 169-185.
    5. Jean-François Hennart & Antonio Majocchi & Emanuele Forlani, 2019. "The myth of the stay-at-home family firm: How family-managed SMEs can overcome their internationalization limitations," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 50(5), pages 758-782, July.
    6. Metsola, Jaakko & Leppäaho, Tanja & Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, Eriikka & Plakoyiannaki, Emmanuella, 2020. "Process in family business internationalisation: The state of the art and ways forward," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(2).
    7. João Lopes & Amélia Branco & Francisco Parejo & Jose Rangel, 2014. "Determinants of success and failure in the internationalisation of the cork business: A tale of two Iberian family firms," ERSA conference papers ersa14p638, European Regional Science Association.

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