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The internationalization of family SME: An organizational learning and knowledge development perspective

Sami Basly (University of Bordeaux Montesquieu, Bordeaux, France)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Article publication date: 22 May 2007



Owing to its specificities, the family small and medium enterprise (SME) shows a particular behavior as for the creation, development, sharing, protection and transmission of knowledge. The purpose of this paper is to study the specificities of the processes of knowledge creation and development in family firms.


Through a questionnaire, hypotheses of the model were tested. The study is based on 118 firms belonging to various industries. After evaluating the reliability and validity of the items through exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, the model was tested through structural equation modeling (LISREL).


The model retained induces the following conclusions. Internationalization knowledge positively influences internationalization degree of the firm. The conservatism of family SME does not directly influence the level of internationalization knowledge. The influence of conservatism on internationalization knowledge is exerted only through the decisional dimension of independence orientation. The independence orientation of family SME, then with its two dimensions simultaneously (decisional and resource independence), does not significantly influence internationalization knowledge. Contrary to decisional independence which influences indirectly the degree of internationalization (through the intermediation of internationalization knowledge), resource independence influences directly the dependant variable. The mediation of internationalization knowledge is thus not totally proven. Social networking positively influences the amount of internationalization knowledge.

Research limitations/implications

A major weakness is the absence of a synchronic approach as the dependent and independent variables are measured at the same moment. A more longitudinal approach would be valuable to analyze the causal relationships between the independent variables and internationalization knowledge and internationalization degree. A second limitation is that the characteristics of the sample may limit the generalizability of the results.


To the author's knowledge, the paper is the first of its kind to examine the knowledge‐based processes in family businesses.



Basly, S. (2007), "The internationalization of family SME: An organizational learning and knowledge development perspective", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 154-180.



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