Drawing on the resource dependence theory, we explore the mechanism of how Chinese family firms break from the dependence on the value chain of the leading firms in developed economies by international entrepreneurship. The results show that: First, international entrepreneurship can effectively reduce family firms’ market dependence and technology dependence on the leading firms in the value chain. Second, the higher the ownership of family firms, the stronger the negative effect of international entrepreneurship on market dependence and technology dependence. Third, the higher the domestic market power of family firms, the stronger the negative effect of international entrepreneurship on technology dependence, but that on market dependence is not supported.
The theoretical contributions are as follows: First, this paper enriches the research on international entrepreneurship by introducing the value chain perspective to the field of internationalization. It explores the effect of family firms’ international entrepreneurship on value chain dependence. Second, this paper opens up a new theoretical perspective from the resource dependence theory and deepens the family firm research. Third, this paper empirically extends the boundary condition on the link by taking family ownership and domestic market power into consideration.
The practical implications are as follows: First, for family firms, the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem constructed through international entrepreneurship can improve their autonomy and control in the value chain. By building a complete industrial chain, international entrepreneurship can also effectively enhance their resilience to deal with complex and multiple resource-dependent pressure, so as to better cope with the power imbalance of multinational firms in the value chain. Second, in firms with higher family ownership, the pursuit of extended social-emotional wealth will drive families to think about the long-term growth of family firms, enhance their willingness to start international businesses, and reduce their value chain dependence by focusing on the long-term development of their families, their reputation, and the common development of stakeholders. In addition, higher family ownership can reduce agency costs and resource allocation speculation, achieve rapid decision-making, and ensure that firms have sufficient resources to invest in international entrepreneurship, thus reducing their value chain dependence. Third, family firms with higher market advantages in the domestic market means that they have accumulated richer experience, capabilities, and resources during their long-term business practices. Therefore, family firms should strengthen the two-way learning of local market knowledge and overseas market knowledge.