The international expansion of SMEs derives from the combined action of a number of internal and external factors, which are present in the phases of a business activity at various levels. Among the internal variables that may be considered as remarkable explanatory elements of the internationalization processes, just recently the relationship between the ownership structure and the access to foreign markets has become particularly important. Entrepreneurial, managerial and financial resources are of great importance in the process of internationalization of family businesses. The globalization of markets and business practices represents the main factor that drives these companies to expand their operations towards international paths. In addition, internationalization is an important dimensional and organizational growth opportunity, thus allowing to revitalize both the family system and the enterprise system, through new job opportunities for the members of the controlling family and through the business sustainability for the future generations. Being a family business has many implications on their international behaviour, especially if it is taken into consideration the fact that, inside them, sometimes, divergent systems coexist. These systems evolve and change in the different stages of the life cycle. In fact, the presence of family members, with a different level of risk perception and risk appetite, may influence the decision to undertake international activities. The discussion of the factors that promote or inhibit the internationalization of the family business has not come to unambiguous results yet. Basing on the theoretical formulations of the international entrepreneurship and stewardship theory, the main objective of this paper is to determine whether, and to what extent, the generational 2 involvement, the presence of altruism and trust affect the decision to internationalize the family business. This article also aims at providing some food for thought for the academic debate on the internationalization of family businesses
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