Abstract

We study the role of social networks and embeddedness in the course of the internationalisation process of small- and medium-sized family enterprises (SMFEs). We also consider the presence/ absence of original network ties in their internationalization and if imprinting explains the networking strategy. We study 15 cases from Finland and conclude that the case firms had generally no existing international network ties and that 13 out of 15 SMFEs concentrate on cultivating network closure (NC) with few international network partners. Hence, they are overembedded in their international markets; they have continued cooperating with their original network ties throughout their internationalization history. Only two out of 15 case firms had a focus on bridging structural holes (SHs) and they were clearly the most successful firms among the 15 SMFEs. Imprinting explains very well the actions of SMFEs: their focus on international networking seems to be on keeping the very initial network ties and keeping up a good level of NC with them, instead of building a wide range of international network ties (overall or in each foreign market either).

THE BABSON COLLEGE BERTARELLI FAMILY AWARD FOR THE BEST PAPER ON THE TOPIC OF
FAMILY ENTREPRENEURSHIP

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