To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Internationalization patterns of small and medium‐sized enterprises

Olli Kuivalainen (School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Sanna Sundqvist (School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Sami Saarenketo (School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Rod McNaughton (Conrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 7 September 2012




The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of the conceptual frameworks and concepts with which the research on internationalization patterns of small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) should be conducted.


A comprehensive overview of concepts and a conceptual framework to study internationalization patterns of SMEs is offered.


The complexities of existing definitions and methodologies for researching internationalization patterns are highlighted, and a synthesis of the issues is provided. An integrative model of internationalization pathways, and their antecedents and outcomes is presented.

Research limitations/implications

It is recommended that future research focuses especially on the time dimension of internationalization patterns. Future research can contribute to the literature by adopting a longitudinal approach with larger samples and more detailed cases to capture the dynamics of internationalization.

Practical implications

Practitioners might map their positions, and look for challenges and opportunities with regard to their chosen internationalization pattern. They can also benchmark other firms’ pathways and fine‐tune their own approach to internationalization.


The paper integrates a large body of research in an important research area in international marketing. It also provides guidance on how to conduct future research in the area, and introduces the content of this special issue of the International Marketing Review.



Kuivalainen, O., Sundqvist, S., Saarenketo, S. and McNaughton, R. (2012), "Internationalization patterns of small and medium‐sized enterprises", International Marketing Review, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 448-465.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles