Seminar #02 – July 1, 2020

heterogeneity of family firm internationalization:


The seminar is presented by Moritz FeningerPhD student at the Institute of Family Business and Mittelstand (ifbm@WHU) at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar (Germany). The paper, entitled “Understanding heterogeneity of family firm internationalization: a multi case study” is co-authored by Nadine Kammerlander.

date: July 1, 2020

time: 12:00-13:00 (CET)

location: Zoom (private event)


ABSTRACT – Whereas the importance of internationalization for family firms in an increasingly globalized world is undisputed, much remains to be understood about how the heterogeneous involved families shape their firms’ internationalization processes. In particular, it remains unclear why the family influence can both encourage and hinder internationalization and how families mitigate the risks associated with international endeavors. Based on a qualitative multi-case study with 78 interviews of family firm managers of eight cases and additional experts, we find that family firms vary with regard to cognitive and emotional barriers to internationalization (emotion and communication dissonance, employee conservatism, risk mitigation strategies, and a fear to lose control over the firm). We further reveal strategies to overcome these impediments. We contribute to family firm internationalization, especially by identifying and discussing the important role of emotional and communication dissonance between potentially risk-favoring family members against (more) risk-averse long-term employees.


Moritz Feninger

PhD Student

 Institute of Family Business and Mittelstand 

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management