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This study explores how the ownership structure of family firms gives these organizations a distinctive nature in terms of international diversification. We argue that the heterogeneity of family firms may cause variations in the degree of international diversification among these types of businesses. We have studied three factors related to ownership structure: the degree of family ownership and the type and degree of ownership of the second largest shareholder (another family or a financial company). The empirical evidence is provided by a sample of European and Asian family firms (2004-2008). Our results show that the degree of family ownership has a negative impact on the degree of international diversification. However, the presence and ownership share of a financial company as the second largest shareholder in a family firm favor this diversification. This study also reveals the importance of the financial company as a second owner in the preference family firms show for growth in international markets. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
family firms; international diversification; ownership; shareholders; lagged dependent-variables; socioemotional wealth; development investments; exploratory evidence; ownership structure; conceptual issues; moderating role; agency costs; performance; involvement