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International growth of SMEs: exploring the effects of adaptive selling, institutional knowledge, innovativeness and opportunity recognition

Hashem Aghazadeh (Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran)
Farzad Zandi (Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran)

Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2053-4604

Article publication date: 30 August 2021

Issue publication date: 1 December 2022




This study aims to investigate the effects of adaptive selling, as a high-level individual-level marketing capability, institutional knowledge, international opportunity recognition and general innovation-orientation of managers on the international growth of Iranian small- and medium-sized enterprises. Also, drawing on strands of research into early internationalisation firms, this study attempts to determine the impact of precocity and speed of internationalisation as a moderator of the relationship of antecedents to international growth.


The research is based on answers of 748 managers from 186 firms to a self-reporting questionnaire. The partial least squares (PLS) structural equation modelling approach was used to assess the measurement and construct the model. Furthermore, the study used a PLS multigroup design with four groups of firms to compare the paths with regard to precocity and speed of internationalisation.


Significant associations for seven out of eight hypotheses were found. The international opportunity recognition was found to mediate the relationship between institutional knowledge and adaptive selling-innovativeness. Additionally, the results of the comparisons found important implications to early and fast internationalisation.


This study shows that international growth stems from individual innovation orientation. It sheds light on the importance of institutional knowledge, adaptive selling and opportunity recognition for early and pacey internationalisation. The findings contribute to the international entrepreneurship literature based on both the early and gradual internationalisation.



Funding: The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose. The authors have no financial or proprietary interests in any material discussed in this article.

Conflicts of interest/competing interests: We have no known conflict of interest to disclose.

Authors’ contributions and Relationships: All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organisation or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.


Aghazadeh, H. and Zandi, F. (2022), "International growth of SMEs: exploring the effects of adaptive selling, institutional knowledge, innovativeness and opportunity recognition", Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, Vol. 14 No. 6, pp. 1265-1298.



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