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SME internationalisation: past, present and future trends

Cristina Fernandes (NECE Research Unit in Business Sciences, Universidade da Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal) (Centre for Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Pedro Mota Veiga (Escola Superior de Educação de Viseu, Instituto Politécnico de Viseu, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Viseu, Portugal) (NECE Research Unit, Covilhã, Portugal)
Stephan Gerschewski (Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburg, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 24 March 2023

Issue publication date: 19 April 2023




Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) generally make a crucial contribution to local and national economies. As the market has become increasingly globalised over the past two decades, SMEs often feel the need and/or push to internationalise their business activities. It is in this need that several barriers and challenges are perceived by SMEs, since these companies generally have different characteristics and resources compared to large multinational enterprises (MNEs). Accordingly, given that the literature on internationalisation is rather extensive and relatively fragmented, this study seeks to systematically understand the scientific structure of research on the internationalisation of SMEs, and how it is organised.


The authors used a bibliometric approach and data co-citation to identify and systematise the scientific publications, intellectual structures and research trends related to SME internationalisation.


The study research reveals five approaches that theoretically support the internationalisation processes of SMEs: (1) internationalisation and networks; (2) internationalisation and venture capital; (3) internationalisation and intrinsic characteristics; (4) internationalisation and transactional costs; and (5) internationalisation and firm resources and capabilities.


This study has important implications for academics and practitioners who are likely to benefit from a holistic understanding of the different aspects of SME internationalisation.



Fernandes, C., Veiga, P.M. and Gerschewski, S. (2023), "SME internationalisation: past, present and future trends", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 144-161.



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