Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale

Microfoundation of and behavioural issues in International Business, FARB Politecnico

About the project

The research group TIRESIA focuses its studies on the phenomenon of social innovation, especially referring to technology-enabled ways of addressing social needs. TIRESIA built up a relevant experience in giving strategic consultancy in the definition of social impact indicators and in the social impact measurement, towards corporations, financial institutions, foundations, public administrations and third sector organizations.

Title: Micro-foundations for research in cross-border acquisitions: The role of individuals in bridging cultural distance

Principal Investigators:  Stefano Elia, Cristina Rossi

Funders: FARB – Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering – Politecnico di Milano.

Duration: May 2014-April 2017

Partners: University of Reading (Professor P. Greve and D. Castellani), Copenhagen Business School (Prof. M.M. Larsen), University of Leuven (Prof. F. De Beule), University of Ljubljana (prof. A. JakIic), University of Warsaw (Prof. M. Zdziarski) and University of Amsterdam (Prof E. M. Heemskerk)


This project examines the role of key individuals (CEOs and Top Management Teams) in facilitating international business. The mainstream debate on cross-border investments has left ample room for exploratory research that puts key individuals, their characteristics and their behavior at the core of the analysis, and provide a micro-foundation of the internationalization strategies. The research aims to originally and significantly advance our understanding of how individuals’ cultural and demographic characteristics, educational background, working experiences, and cognitive biases and heuristics, as well as how the composition and diversity of top management teams’ skills, cultures and demographic characteristics, affect strategic choices such as going international, entry mode, acquisition diversification and location choice. A further topic under investigation is the relationship between the networks of individuals and internationalization, with a focus on the impact of interlocks among boards directorates on location choices. Understanding the micro-foundations of international business will increase scholars’ and practitioners’ awareness of how cross-border investments work, thus providing them with a set of tools for opening the black box of firms in cross-border acquisitions. The analyses are carried out both at theoretical level, especially as regards the behavioral approach, and at empirical level, by relying on different databases, such a set of UK firms investing abroad, a sample of Italian innovative start-ups and a sample of European firms


  • Elia, S., Larsen, M., Piscitello, L. Entry mode deviation: a behavioral approach to internalization theory. Forthcoming on the Journal of International Business Studies.
  • Garrone, P., Piscitello, L., Rotondi, V., Elia, S. (2017). “Assessing the impact of entrepreneurship training: the case of Empretec Panama”. White paper, UNCTAD-Ginevra, presented at the XXII Empretec Directors Meeting of UN-Geneva, 6-7 December 2016.
  • Castellani, D., Elia, S., Greve, P., Vallone, T. The micro-foundations of industrial diversification through foreign acquisitions: An empirical analysis of UK firms. Submitted to a journal.
  • Elia, S., Greve, P., Longoni L., Marinelli D., Vallone, T. Microfounding the complexity of internationalization: the role of top management teams. Paper under submission to a journal.
  • M. Zdziarski, E. M. Heemskerk, J. Garcia-Bernardo, F. De Beule, A. JakIic, S. Elia, F. Takes. “The power of proximity at a distance: the role of interlocking directorates in reducing the liability of outsidership. Paper under submission to a journal.
  • Elia, S., Grilli, L. Go abroad or remain small: do foreign studying and working experiences impact the international vocation of entrepreneurs? Working paper.