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From export entry to de-internationalisation through entrepreneurial attributes

Esteban Lafuente (GEM-Catalunya & Department of Management, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Barcelona Tech), Barcelona, Spain)
Maria-Cristina Stoian (Brunel Business School, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK)
Josep Rialp (Department of Business Economics, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 16 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine export behaviour from a broad perspective considering the influence of entrepreneurial attributes on export entry, export sustainability and de-internationalisation in Romanian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


Based on theoretical underpinnings from the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm and the Institutional Economics (IE) framework, the proposed hypotheses are tested with a rich survey data set of 319 Romanian SMEs. The data are analysed by means of a multinomial logit regression.


The study reveals that exporting is not a single event and that variables commonly used to study export propensity linked to the entrepreneurial attributes have a differential influence over the export decisions. More concretely, export entry is positively impacted by the presence of management studies and an entrepreneurial team while sustainment in the international arena is strongly and positively influenced by decision-makers’ prior labour experience. De-internationalisation is explained by the entrepreneurs’ fear of business failure. The conclusions of this study point towards a holistic view of export policy making revealing relevant implications for SMEs’ internationalisation.


This study enriches the international business literature by simultaneously examining different export decisions, namely export initiation, sustainability and de-internationalisation, at the SMEs’ level in a Central and Eastern European (CEE) emerging market. The paper also highlights the dynamic character of entrepreneurial resources and suggests that at distinct stages in the international development of a SME, different entrepreneurial attributes may play a significant role.



Esteban Lafuente acknowledges financial support provided by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (ECO No. 2010-21393-C04-01).


Lafuente, E., Stoian, M.-C. and Rialp, J. (2015), "From export entry to de-internationalisation through entrepreneurial attributes", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 21-37.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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