Seminar #13 – February 10, 2021

Values-based Internationalization

Evidence from a Global Family Firm

The presenter is Margré van Dalfsen, Doctoral Candidate at WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management (Germany) and member of the Dutch Centre of Expertise in Family Business, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands). The paper is entitled “Values-based Internationalization: Evidence from a Global Family Firm“, and is co-authored by Francesco Barbera, Erik Veldhuizen, and Henry Shi.

date: February 10, 2021

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

location: Zoom (private event)

ABSTRACT – It is well known that internationalization – defined as the process of increasing a firm’s involvement in foreign markets – is a major element in the ongoing strategy of most organizations. Recognized as a unique category of business, the strategic behaviors of family firms are particularly known to be value-oriented. Despite of the growing literature on the internationalization of family firms, knowledge of family firm internationalization from a values perspective remains limited. Our study therefore seeks to address this gap by asking: How do values relate to the internationalization processes of family firms?

To answer our research question, we used a longitudinal case study approach. We selected a 2nd generation family business where explicit values (trust, honesty, respect, integrity, passion to create value, empowering others and openness) played a key role in the manner in which it expanded its international business activities. By way of 23 interviews with key family and non-family members in four different rounds across an eight year period and secondary data we reconstructed the firm’s entire internationalization trajectory from a local, to regional, and ultimately a global firm.

An integrative process – whereby our qualitative data were interpreted/structured and the extant literature consulted – revealed 1st and 2nd order themes that were then abstracted into a broader conceptual model. Findings of our study reveal a previously undocumented internationalization strategy, which may be particularly suited to family-owned firms. We show how explicit family values are proactively aligned with the values of those in the International Business (IB) network via specific strategies. Consisting of those with shared values, the IB network is enhanced, facilitating various aspects of the internationalization process.


Margré van Dalfsen

Doctoral Candidate 

Dutch Centre of Expertise in Family Business

Windesheim University of Applied Sciences