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International Family Enterprise

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"Enabling Internationalization Excellence for Family Enterprises"

IFE, 2017

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Of coming and going

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a bus. The bus is taking me to Austria, where I’ll spend a couple of days visiting my friends before heading towards the expected white Christmas in Finland. My trip has started from Milan, where I attended an European International Business Academy Conference of current research related to my own research field. Now, having a good 5-hour ride for myself, I start reflecting on the past six months of research and my next steps in this process. So, in addition to a simple bus ride with a nice view over the Alps, I find myself being on a mental journey of some sort inspired by the things I see around me.

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We thought this must be the best way – but we should always remember it is just one way and there is also a mid-way

My newest publication* deals with how SMEs are able to build international network ties wisely to an institutionally different foreign market. We investigated eight Finnish SMEs who had exports via agents / distributors, sales subsidiaries, or a production subsidiary in the French market. We interviewed both Finnish managers and their French collaborators. We used the concept of institutional logics to find out about the cultural and material practices typical of Finnish and French business culture / SMEs.

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Are Finnish Family Enterprises Too Family-Oriented for International Growth?

PwC recently conducted a large-scale Family Business Survey Report about family enterprises both globally and in Finland. The survey dealt with various themes, among which a closely examined one was internationalization. In Finland, 54 phone interviews and 57 face-to-face interviews were conducted, which yielded some interesting findings. Finnish family enterprises expect more growth than their counterparts in Sweden, Germany and globally, both overall and in terms of international sales during the next five years. The survey, however, raises a concern over the relatively low willingness among Finnish family enterprises to use nonfamily executives in running the business. According to the survey, enterprises with nonfamily executives tend to grow more aggressively. Accordingly, it asks whether Finnish family enterprises are capable enough to achieve the high international growth targets with current skills, people and product/service portfolio.

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News about Tanja’s research in Talouselämä

Tanja’s research on the importance of building a social relationship for international networking was widely reported in Talouselämä on 14/10/2017. See the news here. The contents of the article are related to Tanja’s findings and considerations which reveal that Finnish managers and entrepreneurs seem not to fully understand the role of social relationships for internationalization. Instead, they mainly concentrate on developing and presenting technology and being cost-efficient in relation to the relationship maintenance. However, even the best technological product of highest technology and qualities cannot be sold without networks, which, on turn, make the sales and the result of the firm below the line. In the article, Tanja also gives recommendations for the networking related to Russia, China and France.

Tanja’s research and its practical implications were also discussed in the web release of Suomen yrittäjät. See the news here

On the Importance of Family Enterprises

Some family enterprises do not want to be labeled as family enterprises. The reason for it might be the lack of respect there used to be for this type of firms. Recently, the focus in many societies has been on high-growth firms, which are without doubt important and fascinating stories. However, at the same time, the largest group of firms, the ones growing slower, slowly, or not at all, making more than 95% of the firm population, have achieved much less attention. I think this really needs to be fixed, and there needs to be more focus on firms with slower growth, such as family enterprises.

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