Title: The role of stewardship in the internationalisation of family firms

Authors: Christine Mitter; Sandra Emprechtinger

Addresses: Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Urstein Sued 1, A-5412 Puch/Salzburg, Austria ' Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Urstein Sued 1, A-5412 Puch/Salzburg, Austria

Abstract: Despite increasing scientific attention, research on how family firms' unique characteristics influence their internationalisation is still scarce. Among other particularities, they are coined by stewardship over continuity, employees and customers. Drawing on a multiple case study analysis of five Austrian family firms, the study explores the impact of mentioned stewardship dimensions on the propensity, process and success of internationalisation. The findings suggest a positive influence of the stewardship culture on family firms' propensity to internationalise. While their concern for continuity may initially - due to risk aversion and resource constraints - lead to an incremental and cautious approach, it also drives family firms to internationalise more sustainably. Since trustworthy international employees and business partners can reduce the perceived risk, they seem to be an essential precondition for internationalisation and impact the internationalisation pathways of family firms. Close relationships with international employees and partners also constitute a success factor for internationalisation.

Keywords: family firms; internationalisation; stewardship theory; social capital; trustworthiness; family business; trust; Austria; stewardship culture; risk aversion; resource constraints; perceived risk.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEV.2016.082220

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, 2016 Vol.8 No.4, pp.400 - 421

Available online: 13 Feb 2017 *

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