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Change in SME internationalisation: an Irish perspective

Niina Nummela (Turku School of Economics, Turku, Finland)
Sharon Loane (School of International Business, University of Ulster, UK)
Jim Bell (School of International Business, University of Ulster, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 1 October 2006




The purpose of this research is to describe and analyse the change process related to internationalisation among three internationalising Irish SMEs.


The authors employ a retrospective case study. The data were collected with face‐to‐face interviews with the founding CEOs.


The study indicates that the changes in SME internationalisation would be more multidimensional than assumed. The level of change due to internationalisation varies considerably and the different types of change are closely intertwined. However, the cases verified that the framework created is a well‐functioning tool for analysing such changes.

Research limitations/implications

The study is an exploratory one, and the findings are based on three cases. Therefore the results can only be considered tentative. Additionally, the retrospective nature of the research design is challenging, as it puts weight on the respondents' memory and ability to identify change.

Practical implications

Based on the findings SMEs might be able to anticipate future changes in the environment and adapt to them. This could also be reflected in their strategic planning. Additionally, the information can be utilised in organising public support for internationalising SMEs.


In contrast to the mainstream research which focuses on the change process, the study examines the content of change, i.e. what actually changed in the company during internationalisation.



Nummela, N., Loane, S. and Bell, J. (2006), "Change in SME internationalisation: an Irish perspective", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 562-583.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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