The inherent heterogeneity characterizing the universe of family firms, espe- cially because of the existence of different family ownership “constellations,” might explain the highly inconsistent results of the effect of family ownership on internation- alization outcomes. Stemming from a principal-principal perspective, the aim of this study is to understand whether and how different levels of family ownership concen- tration affect the degree of firms’ internationalization. We test our main hypotheses on a sample of 455 German family firms. Our main findings suggest the existence of a U- shaped relationship between family ownership concentration and the degree of a family firm’s internationalization. Furthermore, we consider the moderating effect of socioemotional wealth (SEW) and hypothesize that a higher degree of identification of family members with the firm may reduce the negative effects of an equal distribu- tion of family ownership among family members. We find that SEW moderates the U- shaped relationship in such a way that family firms with an equal distribution of shares among the main family shareholders reach higher degrees of internationalization when the level of SEW is high.
Keywords: Family ownership concentration, Internationalization, Principal-principal conflict, Socioemotional wealth, Herfindahl index.