There is a growing amount of evidence that the former business experience of international entrepreneurs guides both their tendency to form international ventures and the subsequent international expansion of the venture. This line of research has been developed parallel to the top management team literature that asserts that, to a great extent, an organization is a mirror of its top managers. One can argue that this mirror effect is even stronger for new ventures as the impact of the entrepreneur is not balanced through the firm’s history and organization.

Recent literature reviews on international new ventures emphasized several studies that suggest a relationship between internationalization and the experience base of the entrepreneurs (Rialp, Rialp and Knight, 2005; Zahra 2005; Aspelund, Madsen and Moen, 2007). Indeed, this relationship was one of the key findings in McDougall, Shane and Oviatt’s (1994) seminal case studies of INVs and is also reflected in more recent work.

This study investigate to which extent the background and former experience of international entrepreneurs from the Rhone-Alps region in France influence the pace, direction and extent of international activities of the ventures they form.