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The impact of board of directors’ characteristics on the internationalization of family SMEs

Pongelli, C. ORCID:, Majocchi, A., Bauweraerts, J., Sciascia, S., Caroli, M. and Verbeke, A. (2023) The impact of board of directors’ characteristics on the internationalization of family SMEs. Journal of World Business, 58 (2). 101412. ISSN 1090-9516

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jwb.2022.101412


Family small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face both general bounded rationality challenges and a unique expression of bounded rationality in their internationalization process: the bifurcation bias, a concept aligned with modern transaction cost theory (TCT). We argue that efficient governance in family SMEs, and especially features of the Board of Directors’ composition, can help alleviate bounded rationality. Complementing TCT with upper echelons theory (UET), we investigate which Board characteristics in family SMEs contribute to efficient governance and the ensuing strategy decisions. We focus specifically on strategy decisions in the internationalization sphere. Our empirical analysis of survey data from 328 Belgian family SMEs, operating out of a small open economy, reveals that family SMEs internationalize more if their Boards are ‘open’, ‘inclusive’, ‘experienced’ and ‘active’. These Board characteristics, all reflective of efficient governance, i.e., providing the Board with the capacity to alleviate bounded rationality constraints, positively contribute to internationalization, especially (and perhaps paradoxically) when the family SME is managed by a CEO who is also a family member.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > International Business and Strategy
ID Code:109160

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