To read this content please select one of the options below:

The internationalisation process of UK SMEs: exporting and non-exporting behaviours based on a four forces behavioural model

Dafnis N. Coudounaris (Aalborg University Business School of the Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark and School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia)

Review of International Business and Strategy

ISSN: 2059-6014

Article publication date: 15 January 2021

Issue publication date: 17 May 2021




This study aims to develop a new internationalisation model to describe the exporting and non-exporting behaviours of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and then applying it to a sample of UK SMEs. The conceptual model consists of four forces leading to a successful business.


The sample is a stratified one taken from KOMPASS directory and focussing on the Greater Manchester area. In total, 250 firms were chosen to be the population of this survey. In total, 110 surveys were received by email i.e. 24 non-exporters and 86 exporters that were fully completed.


The four forces of the model include the non-exporting activity, the activity before and after the first export order, differences and similarities between non-exporters and exporters and the regular exporting activity. This model’s findings demonstrate important empirical determinants related to four forces, which, in turn, shape the successful exporting activity.


The empirical evidence from the study suggests that the major differences between non-exporters and exporters, which include the differences in management perceptions towards exporting, and the differences and similarities of firm and management characteristics, explain only to some degree what constitutes successful exporting behaviour. The model is considered useful for smaller businesses located in the UK. The study highlights the importance of firms before and after the first export order, which provides insights for managers of firms about going through with the first export order rather than withdrawing from this effort. The study reveals the motivations for exporting, the timing, the modes through which firms export, firms’ management characteristics and attitudinal differences between exporters and non-exporters, which are essential for practitioners.



Coudounaris, D.N. (2021), "The internationalisation process of UK SMEs: exporting and non-exporting behaviours based on a four forces behavioural model", Review of International Business and Strategy, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 217-256.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles