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International market selection for small firms: a fuzzy-based decision process

Gianluca Marchi (Department of Business Economics, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy)
Marina Vignola (Department of Business Economics, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy)
Gisella Facchinetti (Department of Economics Sciences and Mathematics, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy)
Giovanni Mastroleo (Department of Economics Sciences and Mathematics, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 4 November 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to build and test an International Market Selection (IMS) decision process method that is able to capture, within a small firm’s risk-averse setting, the entrepreneur's experience, reduce cognitive biases, and preserve the flexibility of the decision, by combining the advantages of systematic and behavioural-based international market selection approaches.

Design/methodology/approach

The unit of analysis is the IMS decision process of a small firm venturing abroad. We adopt a ranking approach based on three-step screening. We assess the markets through a multi-criteria approach with a wider set of variables aggregated within a tree-shaped model. To obtain the ranking, we use a Fuzzy Expert System (FES) as an evaluative tool.

Findings

The results show that the proposed decision method is consistent with the entrepreneur’s strategic orientation and experience, while preserving the flexibility requested for decision-making in small firms. Unlike traditional behavioural IMS approaches, the method demonstrates an ability to reduce the cognitive biases associated with the use of a limited set of variables and unreliable evaluation models.

Research limitations/implications

The single-case-study approach limits generalization of the findings.

Practical implications

The proposed methodology helps the decision-maker to improve the quality of the IMS decision by reducing the effect of cognitive biases that usually affect traditional behavioural models.

Originality/value

For the first time, a decision-process methodology based on an FES is applied to a small firm’s IMS problem.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Ricerca Industriale). The financial support is gratefully acknowledged. This paper was presented at the 35th European International Busineess Academy (EIBA) Conference in Valencia. The authors also would like to thank the EIBA discussants for their helpful comments.

Citation

Marchi, G., Vignola, M., Facchinetti, G. and Mastroleo, G. (2014), "International market selection for small firms: a fuzzy-based decision process", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 48 No. 11/12, pp. 2198-2212. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-09-2012-0512

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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