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Young aspiring globals (YAGs): early-stage strategies of knowledge-focused international entrepreneurs

Paul Brockman (College of Business and Economics, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA and Adelaide Business School, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)
Douglas Dow (Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Hoang Long Phan (School of Economics, The University of Danang, Danang, Vietnam)
Hussain Gulzar Rammal (UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Ralf Zurbruegg (Adelaide Business School, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 26 August 2021

Issue publication date: 28 June 2022




This study aims to explore the intention–action relationship of small and medium-sized (SMEs) firms with knowledge capital that declare their intention to internationalize from their inception.


The authors apply the theory of planned behavior and hand-collect a database of Chinese born globals, purely domestic firms and traditional exporting firms. The authors’ hypothesis is that Chinese born globals [or young aspiring globals (YAGs)] will strive to acquire domestic and international patents at an early stage to institutionally protect their knowledge-capital via intellectual property rights as they enter the competitive global marketplace.


The results confirm that knowledge-focused YAGs apply for patents at an earlier stage than purely domestic and traditional exporting firms. However, in the long run, these firms are neither demonstrating increased knowledge capital by being more innovative nor producing more valuable innovations than their counterparts.


This study tests the intention–action relationship in the context of SMEs internationalization. It contributes to the internationalization literature by identifying the internationalization pattern of born globals (YAGs) from emerging markets and providing an explanation for what happens to these firms as they mature.



Brockman, P., Dow, D., Phan, H.L., Rammal, H.G. and Zurbruegg, R. (2022), "Young aspiring globals (YAGs): early-stage strategies of knowledge-focused international entrepreneurs", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 1540-1565.



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