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The innovation and internationalisation processes of family businesses

Vitor Braga (Department of Business Sciences, Instituto Politecnico do Porto Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestao de Felgueiras, Felgueiras, Portugal and Centro de Inovação e Investigação em Ciências Empresariais e Sistemas de Informação, Felgueiras, Portugal and Center for Transdisciplinary Studies for Development, Universidade de Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal)
Aldina Correia (Instituto Politecnico do Porto Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestao de Felgueiras, Felgueiras, Portugal and Centro de Inovação e Investigação em Ciências Empresariais e Sistemas de Informação, Felgueiras, Portugal)
Alexandra Braga (Department of Business Sciences, Instituto Politecnico do Porto Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestao de Felgueiras, Felgueiras, Portugal and Centro de Inovação e Investigação em Ciências Empresariais e Sistemas de Informação, Felgueiras, Portugal and Center for Transdisciplinary Studies for Development, Universidade de Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal)
Sofia Lemos (Department of Business Sciences, Instituto Politecnico do Porto Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestao de Felgueiras, Felgueiras, Portugal and Centro de Inovação e Investigação em Ciências Empresariais e Sistemas de Informação, Felgueiras, Portugal)

Review of International Business and Strategy

ISSN: 2059-6014

Article publication date: 5 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The success of the family firms cannot be detached from the current paradigm where, within the present economic conditions, economic agents struggle to exploit the existing opportunities and need to take into account the risks associated to the international arena and the innovation processes. The internationalisation and innovation processes may trigger resistance within family business due to their relatively higher difficulty to take risks and to invest in industries outside the scope of their original core business. Innovation and internationalisation processes become relevant strategies for the family firms’ continuity and success. In line with such fact, the aim of this paper is to contribute with insights regarding the processes of innovation and internationalisation within family businesses. In particular, this paper aims to assess the propensity of such firms to apply such strategies, to identify the particular business behaviour and to assess the extent to which the particulars of family firms may constraint or lead to the implementation of innovation policies, and thus its internationalisation.

Design/methodology/approach

The data were collected through questionnaires within family business aiming to understand the scope and characteristics of internationalisation and innovation processes within these firms. The 154 replies from such data collection were analysed using different multivariate statistic procedures, although this paper is based on factorial and correlation analysis.

Findings

The analysis of the results shows that there is an association between the processes of innovation and internationalisation within family business. In addition, the results also suggest a typology of firms regarding their innovation and internationalisation strategies and motivations.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this paper are, to some extent, limited because they did not allow comparing the findings with data from non-family business. However, the authors’ aim was not to distinguish family firms, but rather to characterise them.

Practical implications

This paper expects to contribute with lessons for the management of family business and to raise awareness of the constraints faced by family business. It is important to highlight that family business performance may be affected by a lower propensity to risk-taking attitudes, by the lack of non-family management and to the necessity of separating the family and the business in the business dimensions that the family limits the business growth.

Originality/value

Although there is a significant amount of the literature devoted to explore family business, innovation and internationalisation studies, very few draw on the relationship between internationalisation and innovation processes within family business. This paper explores such a relationship within a particular business context – the family dynamics that strongly affect management and business development.

Keywords

Citation

Braga, V., Correia, A., Braga, A. and Lemos, S. (2017), "The innovation and internationalisation processes of family businesses", Review of International Business and Strategy, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 231-247. https://doi.org/10.1108/RIBS-01-2017-0005

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited