Although the study of family firm internationalization has generated considerable scholarly attention, existing research has offered varied and at times incompatible findings on how family ownership and management shape internationalization. To improve our understanding of family firm internationalization, we systematically review 220 conceptual and empirical studies published over the past three decades, structuring our comprehensive overview of this field according to seven core international business (IB) themes. We assess the literature and propose directions for future research by developing an integrative framework of family firm internationalization that links IB theory with conceptual perspectives used in the reviewed body of work. We propose a research agenda that advocates a cross-disciplinary, multi-theoretic, and cross-level approach to studying family firm internationalization. We conclude that family firm internationalization research has the potential to contribute valuable insights to IB scholarship by increasing attention to conceptual and methodological issues, including micro-level affective motivations, background social institutions, temporal perspectives, and multi-level analyses.
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- systematic review
- family firm internationalization
- international business theory