Abstract

According to available literature, motivation to internationalize is related to firms’ proactiveness towards foreign-market opportunities and firms’ environment. In this perspective, the emphasis is on the firm rather than on the decision-makers within the firm. However, we know that firms do not set goals for themselves: entrepreneurs do.

Building on psychological theories of goal-directed behavior (Locke and Latham, 1990) and of values (Schwartz, 1992), we propose that internationalization - as any entrepreneurial action - is motivated by entrepreneurs’ desires and goals (Shane et al., 2003; Fauchart and Gruber, 2011), in a complex interplay between personal- and company-level goals (Zahra et al., 2005).

Goals are cognitively organized in hierarchies, where lower-level goals are instrumental to achieve higher-level goals (Rokeach, 1973). The highest level of goals is represented by personal values, which serve as guiding principles in people’s lives (Schwartz and Bilsky, 1987). This study aims at: (1) highlighting the hierarchies of goals which motivate entrepreneurs to internationalize; (2) analyzing the relationship between values and internationalization attitudes.

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