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Typologies of internationalisation pathways of SMEs: what is new?

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

Review of International Business and Strategy

ISSN: 2059-6014

Article publication date: 7 November 2018

Issue publication date: 26 November 2018




This study aims to examine internationalisation pathways of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) based on a sample from Manchester, UK, and it provides an exercise theory testing of the Uppsala model with data from SMEs from Manchester. It investigates the existence of new internationalisation pathways and the parallel use of four dimensions, namely, export intensity, export destination, time dimension and number of export markets.


The suggested model of international pathways is developed based on a survey of 110 firms located in the Greater Manchester area. The study of the population was based on a stratified sample of firms included in the KOMPASS directory in the Greater Manchester area. t-Test analysis was performed on combinations of the six pathways.


The results reveal that SMEs follow a pattern of internationalisation pathways consisting of non-exporters, traditional small exporters, traditional medium exporters, accelerated medium exporters, born globals and declining exporters. The paper concludes that the Uppsala model does not apply in this study.


There is evidence of a new pathway, i.e. accelerated medium exporters and the CEOs of Manchester SMEs, and governmental authorities in the UK should consider targeting this group or developing appropriate export promotion programmes.



The work by Dr Dafnis N. Coudounaris was supported by the institutional research funding IUT (IUT20-49) of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. The author would also like to thank Professor Hussain Rammal Editor of Review of International Business and Strategy and the two blind reviewers for providing valuable comments which resulted in the significant improvement of the manuscript.


Coudounaris, D.N. (2018), "Typologies of internationalisation pathways of SMEs: what is new?", Review of International Business and Strategy, Vol. 28 No. 3/4, pp. 286-316.



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