Entrepreneurship in the Global Firm: Volume 6

Cover of Entrepreneurship in the Global Firm

Table of contents

(21 chapters)

Alain Verbeke is professor of international business strategy and holds the McCaig Research Chair in management at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary. He was previously the director of the MBA programme, Solvay Business School, University of Brussels. He has also been visiting professor at Dalhousie University, the University of Toronto and the Université Catholique de Louvain, as well as an associate fellow of Templeton College (University of Oxford). He is presently academic associate of the Centre for International Business and Management, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.

The scholarly attention devoted to entrepreneurship in the international business (IB) literature has been relatively modest. Most of the ‘mainstream’ literature on entrepreneurship in management studies (Casson, 1982; Covin & Slevin, 1991; Lumpkin & Dess, 1996; Shane, 2000) has focused on issues such as the determinants of entrepreneurial behaviour and the characteristics of individual entrepreneurs, thereby only occasionally addressing the international context in which entrepreneurial ventures may develop, and the ways in which this international context influences entrepreneurial decision making.

Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to suggest a dynamic framework to investigate foreign market mode choices of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) over time.

Design/methodology/approach – We introduce a dynamic economic perspective drawing on the behavioural Uppsala Internationalisation Model (UIM) and the economic Transaction Cost Economics (TCE) framework. Often stigmatised as being static, TCE can benefit from the dynamic nature of the UIM. The UIM framework, however, can benefit from the economic determinants of the TCE.

Findings – We test the framework and our hypotheses in a dataset of 206 internationally operating German SMEs with the two data points initial and subsequent mode choice in the same foreign market. Thereby we demonstrate the hypothesised shifting effects of asset specificity and learning on the chosen foreign market mode over time.

Originality/value: The contribution of this chapter is on the link between the UIM and TCE. Particularly for SMEs, dynamics are relevant due to limited international experience and the notion of efficiency is important due to resource constraints. The investigation along the two data points, initial mode and subsequent mode, provides new insights into the effects of asset specificity and learning over time.

Purpose – This chapter seeks to examine the relationship between three strategic decision-making processes (SDMPs) and international performance of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Methodology/approach – Drawing on a sample of 528 SMEs based in four countries (United States, United Kingdom, Greece and Cyprus), the chapter explores the relationship between formalisation, (hierarchical) decentralisation, lateral communication and international performance. The chapter also investigates the moderating effects of dynamism on the aforementioned relationship.

Findings – Results indicate that formalisation and decentralisation have a positive effect on international performance; whereas lateral communication has no effect. Some evidence exists to support the moderating role of dynamism on the process–international performance link in that decentralisation produces positive effects in stable settings whereas lateral communication produces positive effects in dynamic ones.

Research limitations/implications – This chapter focuses on three SDMP dimensions and one characteristic of the external environment. Future studies are also needed to replicate the findings reported here in other national settings. Also, future studies should consider additional variables.

Practical implications – International performance of the SME can be influenced by how managers are involved in their SDMPs.

Social implications – Given the high role that SMEs have in modern economies for employment and growth, we identify SDMPs that are conducive to their international performance.

Originality/value – This study lies at the intersection of two streams of two complementary streams of research: strategic decision-making and international entrepreneurship. It is one of the first attempts to involve the SDMP stream of research in internationalisation.

Purpose – This study sets out to establish experiential knowledge profiles of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) entering emerging markets and to examine how the different abilities contained in these profiles impact the sustainability of market positions in the new turbulent era of global business.

Methodology – We analyse a sample of 203 entries into emerging markets by Swedish SMEs. The data collected on site at all sample firms is analysed in two sequential stages. First, an exploratory factor analysis is performed to derive four types of experiential knowledge. Second, a cluster analysis is performed to establish experiential knowledge profiles among the entering SMEs.

Findings – The result of the analysis shows that experiential knowledge is a multi-dimensional construct consisting of four main types. Moreover, emerging market entering SMEs are shown to develop different knowledge profiles. We suggest that Masters are well prepared for such periods. Learners most probably will experience high levels of uncertainty, whereas Country and Customer Experts face less uncertainty due to their specialisation on either host market or customer knowledge.

Originality – The chapter shows that the experiential knowledge base of emerging market entering SMEs is an important indicator of the readiness for turbulent times. Firms will be able to sustain market positions differently depending on which type of knowledge profile they belong to.

Purpose – The role that network competence, environmental hostility and knowledge intensiveness of the industry have on the propensity of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to internationalise is examined.

Design/methodology/approach – Hypotheses are developed, based on earlier literature on the subject. Subsequently, binary logistic regression modelling using SPSS software is applied to test the hypotheses on a sample of 224 Finnish SMEs representing five industries, two of which are characterised by knowledge intensiveness and three of which are from less knowledge-intensive ones.

Findings – The propensity of SMEs to internationalise depends on both their level of network competence and their lack of perceived environmental hostility. Knowledge intensiveness of the industry is found to moderate the effect that network competence has on the internationalisation propensity.

Research limitations/implications – The present study indicates that possessing higher levels of network competence helps domestic SMEs in their efforts to turn international, and that its beneficial effect is especially important for small firms in industries characterised by high knowledge intensity. Possible limitations of the study are the small cultural context and inclusion of firms from only five industries.

Originality/value – This study is the first linking measurable network competence to internationalisation decisions of SMEs, while also including environmental and industry considerations. It also provides further evidence for the importance of networks in SME internationalisation theory, but indicates that it is not only the business networks themselves but also the competence in developing and maintaining those networks that help SMEs internationalise.

Purpose – In this chapter, we address the lack of sufficient entrepreneurship in multinational enterprises (MNEs) that seek to improve their ability to achieve national responsiveness. The main reason for this deficiency appears to be the transfer of proven routines from the home country, even when it is clear from the outset that these routines will simply not work and will require much more than a quasi-mechanistic ‘adaptation’ to the new environment.

Methodology/approach – Conceptual

Practical implication – This chapter suggests that MNEs need to close their entrepreneurial deficits in host countries, by allowing novel resource recombinations. These resource recombinations should lead to accessing fully the coveted host country location advantages that triggered entry in these countries and to success in the market place.

Originality/value of the chapter – Most of the contemporary international business literature has studied subsidiary entrepreneurship in the context of established affiliates abroad. Here, we argue that entrepreneurship is equally important in the setting of new foreign market entry. We identify entrepreneurial deficits as the main source of MNEs' failure when trying to achieve national responsiveness.

Purpose – The chapter aims at enhancing our understanding on how the headquarters involvement and subsidiary entrepreneurship during the innovation development process of multinational corporation (MNC) subsidiaries affect the outcome of the innovation in terms of their home market- and organisational performance.

Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on cross-sectional questionnaire survey data from 87 innovation projects in 64 MNC subsidiaries located in Europe, East Asia and the United States.

Findings – Subsidiary entrepreneurship during the innovation process has a positive impact on the subsidiary's market performance and a negative impact on its organisational performance, whereas the involvement of corporate headquarters has a negative impact on the market performance, and a positive impact on the organisational performance.

Research implications – The research provides a starting point for further research on the relationship between the management of innovation processes among MNC subsidiaries and the performance outcomes of such processes.

Practical implications – The study implies that there is a need for corporate managers to take into account the entrepreneurial endeavour of subsidiaries when formulating corporate innovation strategies.

Originality/value: Integrates a top-down and bottom-up perspective on the strategic management of innovation development processes in MNC subsidiaries.

Purpose – Taking a configurational perspective, this study explores if there are different market entry strategies used and if there are ideal configurations of subsidiary strategy in different types of foreign countries.

Methodology – The study is based on a sample of 238 subsidiaries of German companies that are located in 38 different countries. Capturing many different facets of the subsidiary strategy, the configuration of top performers in different environments is identified. With a ‘fit as profile deviation’ approach, it is investigated whether the strategy of the top performers indeed constitutes an ideal strategy.

Findings – The host countries of the subsidiaries can be clustered in four types: BRICs, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the USA. Chosen market entry modes differ significantly between those four host country types. The top performing subsidiaries in each of the country types have distinct strategy patterns. However, deviation from the strategy profile of the top performers only explains the lower performance of subsidiaries in country types BRICs and Eastern Europe. Performance differences between subsidiaries in Western Europe and the USA cannot be explained with the variables captured in this study.

Research limitations/implications – Taking a configurational approach on subsidiary strategy proves to be a promising path to create new insights. But subsidiary strategy pattern alone is insufficient to explain performance in two country types. Thus, other influence factors must be investigated. Furthermore, the study did explore subsidiary strategy patterns with a cluster analysis, without ex ante hypotheses about the patterns. Hence, further studies are needed to re-investigate these patterns.

Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to analyse the evolution in the local, global and multinational network embeddedness of foreign subsidiaries in China

Methodology – The study focuses on Sino-Belgian subsidiaries in China. Factor analysis was used to determine the local responsiveness, global integration and multinational network embeddedness of firms. Next cluster analysis was carried out to classify groups of subsidiaries, while ANOVA analysis assessed their different characteristics.

Findings – Although most firms remain the same type of subsidiary throughout the period of 1995–2005, the most prevalent trajectory of strategic evolution by multinational subsidiaries in China is by increasing the integration in the multinational network before gaining more local embeddedness towards a more active role within the multinational network.

Research implications – Changes in the strategic setting and operations of MNEs occur over time because of the dynamic patterns and changing interactions of firm- and country-related factors and policies, especially when the host economy is involved in a rapid transformation process, such as China. Further research could focus on the determinants of strategic evolution.

Originality – This is one of the first chapters to analyse the changing roles of subsidiaries, in particular in an emerging economy.

Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to analyse the influence of offshoring on entrepreneurial activity (i.e. the introduction of new products and services).

Methodology/approach – Conceptual

Practical implication – The framework proposed in this study provides some indication to managers about designing an offshoring strategy. Particularly, we aim to inform managers that offshoring various functions may differentially influence firm innovation and that the effect also depends on the governance mode used for the offshore operations and managerial oversight of the offshoring process.

Originality/value of chapter – We provide a theoretical framework that proposes that the offshoring of knowledge intensive services (KIS) and that of labour-intensive services (LIS) will differentially influence the ability of firms to introduce new products and services. While the offshoring of KIS has an inverted U-shaped influence on entrepreneurial activity, the offshoring of LIS has a positive impact. In addition, we propose that these relationships are conditioned by organisational (i.e. governance mode) and managerial (i.e. TMT reflexivity) factors. Specifically, we argue that the degree of integration with the offshore affiliate and TMT reflexivity each moderate the non-linear relationship between offshoring KIS and innovation in such a way that the positive effects of low levels of offshoring KIS will be stronger and the negative effects of high levels of offshoring KIS will be lower. In addition, we argue that the degree of integration constrains and TMT reflexivity enhances the relationship between offshoring LIS and innovation.

Purpose – To explore the influence of autonomy on subsidiaries' development and transfer intensities and their interrelationship.

Methodology/approach – We develop a theoretical model that we test on a sample of 85 innovation projects developed in 63 subsidiaries in 14 countries. The data were collected by personal interviews and analysed using the Partial Least Squares technique.

Findings – Autonomy is an important driver of subsidiaries' innovation intensity although, surprisingly, we find no influence on transfer intensity. We confirm the positive relationship between subsidiary innovativeness and its role as provider of new competence to sister units within the multinational enterprise (MNE).

Research limitations/implications – In line with previous studies, we can say that autonomy is a desirable result of subsidiary evolution. We can also suggest that overall subsidiary autonomy is beneficial not just to the subsidiary but to the rest of the MNE, since the more the subsidiary innovates the more related competence will be transferred. In other words, innovation efforts at subsidiary level are critical to sustain MNEs' overall competitive advantage.

Practical implications – First, it seems that the more a subsidiary's innovativeness is fostered, the more transfers to other units will occur. Second, we have seen how autonomy is beneficial to the innovative activity of the subsidiary and that it does not seem to harm transfer intensity.

Originality/value – Following studies that point out the potential trade-off between the output of development and transfer activities by subsidiaries, our research contributes by empirically testing the relationship between the intensities of subsidiary innovation development and transfer.

Purpose – Recent research suggests that the positive effect of knowledge diversification on the value of corporate knowledge is limited.

Design/methodology/approach – This study uses an information processing perspective to explore the highest value that firms can draw from knowledge diversification and to argue that R&D cooperation and foreign direct investment help develop this value.

Findings: Regressions on a sample of 21.434 patents of German manufacturing firms show that technologically diversified knowledge has an inverted U-shaped influence on the value of technological knowledge. The findings also suggest that R&D cooperation increases the value generated by technologically diversified knowledge. However, foreign direct investment does not seem to have a moderating influence on the relationship between technological diversification and value.

Research limitations – We use patent citations to measure knowledge transfers. However, not all inventions are patented.

Originality/value – The information processing theory, which we apply in this chapter, provides consistent explanations for both the inverted U-shape of diversification and the extension of the optimal diversification of knowledge by R&D cooperation.

Purpose – This study explores subsidiaries' local network embeddedness and how it contributes to localised subsidiary innovation output from a social network perspective. In particular, we are interested in analysing the consequences of local network density, diversity and, subsidiaries' network position on its innovation outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach – Data are derived from a longitudinal quantitative study of the entire R&D network within one of the largest life science cluster in Germany, the ‘BioRegion Rhein-Neckar-Dreieck’.

Findings – Our findings indicate that the size (density) of the local network has an inverted U-shaped effect on the innovation outcomes of MNC subsidiaries. Our findings further indicate that a strong brokerage position in the local network has a significant positive influence on the innovation output while a position in the core of the network has a significant negative effect on the innovation output.

Research implications – Our results shed new light on the relationship between local embeddedness, brokerage, the danger of overembeddedness and innovation output of MNC subsidiaries.

Purpose – This chapter aims at investigating the impact of cross-border knowledge spillovers on technological innovation in the renewable energy sector.

Methodology/approach – The analysis presented in the chapter assumes that technological knowledge exhibits several tacit elements and requires established connections to flow between countries. A new measure for knowledge spillovers is obtained by weighting international R&D stocks through bilateral trade flows. The country-level patenting activity is modelled through a knowledge production function. The sample includes 18 OECD countries over the 1990–2006 period. Estimates are obtained through panel data techniques.

Findings – Our econometric results show that international knowledge developed by other countries has positive effects on the focal country's innovation in renewable energy technologies. Cross-country linkages, rather than mere geographic proximity, are found to favour cross-country knowledge spillovers.

Impact – The research contributes to the design of energy innovation policies. Public R&D is confirmed to be a relevant input to energy innovation. Coordination between countries in energy R&D activities can be required, particularly when countries maintain mutual linkages.

Originality – This study adds empirical evidence on the effect of cross-country knowledge spillovers and on the channels through which technological knowledge diffuses globally. It contributes to the emerging empirical research on energy innovation.

Purpose – This chapter investigates the role of the multinational enterprise (MNE) in Finland, a small but advanced economy known for its innovative industry clusters. Specifically, the research explores how resource sharing differs between national MNEs, foreign MNE subsidiaries and solely domestic enterprises by type of resources transferred, industry cluster, international orientation, ownership and linkage type.

Design/methodology/approach – The responses are drawn from 85 of Finland's 500 largest firms using a survey instrument for data collection. Results are analysed using SPSS/PASW.

Findings – The chapter provides evidence that MNEs share innovation-related resources via collaborative and supply chain linkages. More importantly, it confirms the important role of national flagship firms – those firms that are Finnish by origin but international in scope. The findings suggest that local cluster development may be attractive to foreign MNEs, but is more likely shaped by the significant contributions to resource sharing made by national MNEs. The research also finds that linkages with customers rather than suppliers are more likely to involve resource sharing, highlighting the importance of forward linkages in the small, advanced economy context.

Originality/value – The results suggest that future research should take a finely grained approach to examining the role of MNEs in resource sharing. Determinants such as types of resources, MNE characteristics and types of linkages are important inclusions in future work.

Cover of Entrepreneurship in the Global Firm
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Progress in International Business Research
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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