This paper probes the factors which influence (i) the degree of internationalization and (ii) the subsequent economic performance, achieved by SMEs in India. These two objectives have been examined in the context of firm level push/pull factors, barriers/challenges, firm resources, and strategy.
This study is based on empirical data gathered through a semi-structured questionnaire from 84 exporting SMEs in the (most internationalized) engineering industry of Bangalore in India during January 2012 to February 2013. The two key research questions have been analyzed using stepwise multiple regression models. The degree of internationalization is defined as the percentage of foreign sales in total sales turn over, as of 2010/2011, and economic performance is represented by (i) the value of sales turnover as of 2010/2011, and (ii) growth of sales turnover from inception till 2010/2011, alternatively. Firm level variables (age of firms, firm size, nature of firm organization), entrepreneurial characteristics (age of the founder and education), time taken to enter the export market for the first time, mode of entry, degree of initial internationalization, years of experience in the international market, whether operated in the international market continuously or not, number of markets currently exported, and number of learnings made are used as the possible explanatory factors for the first objective. In addition, current degree of internationalization is used as the possible explanatory factor for the current level of economic performance whereas initial degree of internationalization for the growth of sales turnover.
It is firm age, size and experience, and education of the CEO which influenced the degree of internationalization of SMEs. In addition, continuous operation in the international market after an early entry, leading to more learnings positively influenced the degree of internationalization. Further, those who adopted the MNC route as the mode of entry achieved a higher degree. However, what is more significant is the degree of initial internationalization achieved by the SMEs which had strongly influenced its current degree of internationalization. All these bring out that (i) firm level resources & competence and (ii) firm level strategy, together significantly contributed to the degree of internationalization achieved by the SMEs in an emerging economy like India. However, the degree of internationalization had a negative influence on the current sales turnover achieved. Whereas those SMEs, older in age, organized as private limited companies and led by more qualified CEOs, which catered to more number of countries could achieve a higher sales turnover. But degree of internationalization did not have any influence on firm growth. Only younger and smaller firms grew faster than older and larger firms, irrespective of the degree of internationalization.
The above results bring out that to achieve a larger firm size, entering the international market need not be the only route, in the current era of globalization. It is possible to achieve a higher economic performance even with a domestic market focus, especially when the domestic market is registering a higher growth compared to the international market.
The degree of internationalization and its impact on the economic performance of SMEs have been hardly probed adequately based on empirical data in the context of emerging economies. This study fills this void. It reveals that in the era of globalization where domestic firms might have to face competition though not as much as those which operate in the international market, a larger firm size can be achieved with larger focus on the domestic market and with limited focus on the international market.
Bala Subrahmanya, M.H. (2014), "Degree of Internationalization and Economic Performance of SMEs in Bangalore: Influential Factors and Outcomes", Emerging Market Firms in the Global Economy (International Finance Review, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 35-71. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1569-376720140000015003
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