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Internationalization patterns among speciality food companies: some Italian case study evidence

Stefania Testa (Department of Communication, Computer and System Science, University of Genoa, Genova, Italy)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 25 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of internationalization patterns among speciality food small to medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs), investigating dimensions that may have a bearing on such patterns, using a series of case studies. In particular the investigation seeks to gain new insights about differences among companies in their internationalization patterns. These differences are examined in a framework which tries to relate three company‐level dimensions (market, technology and space) to internationalization patterns. The three dimensions are derived from the constructs developed by Storper and Salais, and Straete.

Design/methodology/approach

Two research questions (RQs) are formulated: Is there a relationship between the internationalization pace of speciality food SMEs and their technology, market, and space dimensions? Is there a relationship between the internationalization modes of speciality food SMEs and their technology, market, and space dimensions? A qualitative approach was adopted and cases from a broad dataset were used. The present research is an explorative research: it is intended to provide insights from which hypotheses might be developed.

Findings

This paper provides an empirical and conceptual contribution to the food internationalization debate. On the empirical side, it provides new evidence on speciality food internationalization, showing a rather diversified set of internationalization patterns, both in terms of pace and modes. On the conceptual side, it shows that the three dimensions of technology, market and space may help to enrich the comprehension of internationalization phenomena. While data collected seem not to provide insights from which hypotheses might be developed concerning RQ1, they seem on the contrary to provide useful insights concerning RQ2.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of the research generally relate to the use of a small sample. Future research should strive to obtain larger samples, develop a set of relevant finer‐grained hypotheses and test those using appropriate statistical techniques

Practical implications

Identifying the impact that the three dimensions might have on internationalization patterns and vice versa may help to focus on these specific elements when companies make their internationalization decisions. On the same line, public policy agencies could benefit from these first results for better clustering companies targeting their internationalization supporting initiatives.

Originality/value

The findings add to the limited body of knowledge on the key influences on internationalization patterns within the food sector.

Keywords

Citation

Testa, S. (2011), "Internationalization patterns among speciality food companies: some Italian case study evidence", British Food Journal, Vol. 113 No. 11, pp. 1406-1426. https://doi.org/10.1108/00070701111180012

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited