Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale

Microfoundation of behavioural issues in International Business

About the project

The aim of this project is to understand the role of key individuals (like CEOs and Top Management Teams) that are responsible for the decisions of multinational and going global firms. The characteristics of key individuals provide a micro-foundation of the international business strategies and allow to understand more in depth the decision-making process, thus offering the possibility to draw strong managerial implications.

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

Principal Investigators:  Stefano Elia

Funders: Free research

Research Team: Stefano Elia, Lucia Piscitello, Tommaso Vallone

Duration: 2014 – ongoing

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., Greve, P., Vallone, T., Castellani, D. (2021). “The micro-foundations of industrial diversification through foreign acquisitions: the multifaceted role of CEO experience”. Long Range Planning (forthcoming),
  • Vallone, T., Elia, S., Greve, P., Longoni, L. and Marinelli, D. (2019), “Top Management Team Influence on Firms’ Internationalization Complexity”, Tulder, R., Verbeke, A. and Jankowska, B. (Ed.) International Business in a VUCA World: The Changing Role of States and Firms (Progress in International Business Research, Vol. 14), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 199-226. ISBN: 978-1-83867-256-0
  • Elia, S., Larsen, M., Piscitello, L. (2019). “Entry mode deviation: a behavioral approach to internalization theory”. Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 50, Pages 1359–1371.
  • M. Zdziarski, E. M. Heemskerk, J. Garcia-Bernardo, F. De Beule, A. JakIic, S. Elia, F. Takes. “Proximity at a distance: The relationship between foreign subsidiary co-location and MNC headquarters board interlock formation”. Paper forthcoming on the International Business Review.
  • Elia, S., Larsen, M., Piscitello, L.. Choosing misaligned governance modes when offshoring business functions: a Prospect Theory perspective. Paper forthcoming on the Global Strategy Journal.
  • Elia, S., Grilli, L. Go abroad or remain small: do foreign studying and working experiences impact the international vocation of entrepreneurs? Working paper.