The “why” of international entrepreneurship: uncovering entrepreneurs’ personal values

Daniela Bolzani, Maw Der Foo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies investigating the "why" of entrepreneurial internationalization have focused on firm-level motivations, overlooking the relationships between firm-level and individual-level motivations and why entrepreneurs differ in the goals they intend to achieve. We investigate the role of personal values as desirable end states that motivate international entrepreneurship by functioning as superordinate cognitive structures that underlie the practical internationalization goals set by entrepreneurs. By adopting an idiographic approach based on a laddering methodology in a sample of 140 new domestic technology-based firms located in Northern Italy, we uncover and map the hierarchies of goals that motivate entrepreneurs’ internationalization intentions, which are anchored in five personal values: achievement, power, self-direction, benevolence, and security. We discuss our theoretical and methodological contributions and the policy implications of our findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-666
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Entrepreneurial internationalization, Entrepreneurial motivation, Entrepreneurial intentions, Goals, Personal values, Laddering method


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