Key Success Factors of SME Internationalisation: A Cross-Country Perspective: Volume 34
Table of contents(17 chapters)
Part I: Major Drivers of SME Internationalisation
The concept of global mindset was introduced more than a decade ago as a prerequisite for successful internationalisation of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, the pace of global integration and globalisation has accelerated, and complexity has increased. Therefore, the authors ask: To what extent is global mindset still a critical driver for successful international expansion of SMEs? We are particularly interested in learning how global mindset is reflected in the decision making of internationalising SMEs in Finland. To answer this question, we test four propositions which concern the relationship between global mindset, decision-making logic and SME performance. Our empirical study is based on a cross-sectional sample of Finnish SMEs, and the authors find that global mindset seems to be linked to both effectual decision-making logic and improved international performance. On the other hand, in our data set effectual decision making and SME performance were not linked; thus, global mindset predicts international rather than overall performance of the Finnish SMEs. Overall, this study confirms the continued relevance of the global mindset concept. Furthermore, it indicates the connection between global mindset and entrepreneurial decision making and that their joint effect is relevant when explaining entrepreneurial internationalisation.
Reaching customers globally and building a global brand and market presence is a demanding task for any firm. For early and rapidly internationalising small firms this is exceptionally challenging due to the restraints that ensue from the liabilities of smallness, newness and foreignness and the speed of their internationalisation. We argue that entrepreneurial marketing is a driver of entrepreneurial internationalisation and one of the – neglected – explanations for superior international performance. The authors conceptualise entrepreneurial marketing along four core (marketing) abilities which fit particularly well the international new firm and show how these positively impact on early and accelerated internationalisation and alter the risk profile of the venture in general.
Several studies have proposed that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lack resources and experiential knowledge to internationalise to distant markets. The authors argue that SMEs can handle the lack of these tangible and intangible internal resources through external collaborations; they can achieve success in international markets by collaborating with business partners. The role of inter-firm marketing collaboration and its impact on internationalisation efforts has not been thoroughly studied, particularly in the context of SMEs. This study will thus advance our understanding of SMEs’ inter-firm marketing collaborations and how they influence performance in international markets. In this chapter, authors conceptually develop this line of arguments through an extensive literature review and develop some hypotheses and a framework that can be empirically tested. The authors believe this framework will serve as a starting point for further studies on this topic. Theoretically, we endeavour to contribute by showing that firms can enhance their level of international performance through inter-firm collaboration. The authors believe this type of study would have considerable theoretical as well as managerial implications in this important field of research.
Entry Mode Strategies: Are SMEs Any Different?
Adopting a quantitative explorative research design, we employed a sample of 770 foreign market entries in the period 2005–2015 to investigate whether particular entry mode strategies such as joint venture or wholly owned subsidiary are differently chosen by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large firms. Various tests have been carried out revealing that SMEs show some different features compared to large firms when selecting their entry mode. SMEs react differently to economic downturns, and the diversification level is a crucial determinant for their entry choices while it is not for large firms. Moreover, we found for a set of other factors affecting the entry choice of large firms, not being significant for SMEs. Implications of these findings are discussed.
The High-Performing SMEs in Traditional Manufacturing Sectors: Innovation and Foreign Operation Modes
The aim of this chapter is to examine the profile of high-performing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Traditional Manufacturing Sectors (TMSs). The authors main contribution is to provide recommendations and benchmarks for prescribing a more robust model of internationalisation in these industries by specifying the types of internationalisation and innovation that better reinforce competitiveness. Our results, based on a sample of 132 SMEs, show that high-performing SMEs make more intense use of advanced operation modes that imply a closer interaction with the host country to access knowledge diversity, skills and work available in those markets. Moreover, compared to low-performing SMEs, and independently of their size and experience, these firms use a wide set of networking and marketing capabilities and develop innovations based on organisational changes that help to create new business models. After a number of years of forced adjustment and adaptation to a globalised context, the new model of high-performing SME in TMS could help to improve the global positioning of these firms in the long term.
Part II: Key Success Factors of SME Internationalisation in Mature Markets
Many national and regional governments and various trade associations have created and are currently developing services that aim to provide support for firms that have just begun to or which plan to operate in international markets. Consequently, the purpose of this chapter is to illustrate the role of various support services especially in the case of software small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) aiming to expand internationally and accelerate their international growth. In the empirical part of the chapter, the authors review the key support organisations Finland has for its software industry. Through a descriptive empirical survey (n = 25) of the industry, we illustrate the role of various support services that are especially targeted at firms aiming to accelerate their international growth, irrespective of the phase of internationalisation. Furthermore, the authors study the use, quality and effectiveness of the internationalisation of support services from the viewpoint of managers of Finnish software SMEs. Based on our results, it is easy and logical to argue that better targeted programmes should be developed for rapidly internationalising firms in the turbulent software market. However, there are already a few innovative and better targeted programmes being offered to Finnish software firms. According to our study, in the later phases of internationalisation, the key to success is more closely linked to the availability of external funding as well as knowledge and contacts provided by international consultants.
How Can Promotion Agencies Impact SME Internationalisation? The Case of the French Company Slat
This chapter focuses on the international development of Société Lyonnaise d’Appareillage Téléphonique, an independent small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) which develops, produces and markets solutions of secured alimentations. Located in France, the company has more than 70 employees. The SME has mainly developed in international markets through export activities: in 2016, it realised 21.2% of its total sales abroad and its products were marketed in 37 countries. In 2011, the company decided to implement a sales subsidiary in Germany to strengthen its presence in international markets. In this process, the company was accompanied by a promotion agency which helps companies from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region to expand into foreign markets. The authors of this chapter explain the role played by the agency in the establishment of the foreign subsidiary and the influence of a successful accompaniment experience on the internationalisation process.
In the German economy, in addition to typical small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Mittelstand plays a major role. The present chapter focuses on those Mittelstand firms that are known as Hidden Champions. The contribution will show how the general characteristics of Mittelstand firms impact their internationalisation strategies and internationalisation processes. It outlines how the German Mittelstand solves the global–local dilemma in an unparalleled way, and it stresses some of the major challenges that Mittelstand firms face.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face challenges in internationalisation due to their limited resources. Research on service firm internationalisation as well as the antecedents and consequences is scarce. Literature suggests that internationalisation for service firms is even more demanding than for manufacturing firms due to the characteristics of services such as intangibility. Extant literature states that firms introducing innovations are more likely to export. However, research on learning by exporting and thus investigating the effect of a firm’s export status on innovation is comparatively scarce. Therefore, the authors investigate the influence of different market entry strategies on innovation and firm performance. The authors employ a quantitative, survey-based approach to test our hypotheses based on a sample of internationally active firms headquartered in Austria. Regarding firm financial performance, the analysis of the data shows that the entry strategy of direct entry excels the direct export strategy. In terms of non-financial performance, the strategies of direct entry and direct export seem to be equally feasible.
Part III: Key Success Factors of SME Internationalisation in Emerging Markets
Over the last 10 years, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developed countries have faced increasingly stiff competition in their local markets, which has put the survival of many of them at risk. To reduce their vulnerability, many SMEs have targeted sales to other countries. Recently, however, the pace and intensity of these firms’ export activities appear to have decreased, as their traditional markets (i.e., the United States and Europe) have been experiencing slow growth. This situation has led some SMEs to explore the possibility of exporting to less traditional countries presenting more opportunities. However, a good number of entrepreneurs remain hesitant to go down this road, in particular given the uncertainty that prevails in those regions and the risks they represent in terms of exports. This study, which was conducted with a sample of 582 Canadian manufacturing SMEs, reveals that two characteristics help explain the fact that some SMEs choose to export to higher risk countries, more specifically to Asia. These characteristics are a positive attitude towards risk-taking among managers and the implementation of certain risk management mechanisms.
This chapter focuses on the international development of Mixel Agitators, an independent SME which develops, produces and markets industrial mixers. Founded in the late 1960s near Lyon, in France, the company has more than 70 employees worldwide. Initially focused on its domestic market, the SME changed strategy and opened to foreign markets after the arrival of a new CEO. Since then, Mixel Agitators has been highly active abroad, notably is China where it holds a production and sales subsidiary. The authors of this chapter chart the international expansion of the company in order to highlight key success factors of industrial SMEs in such a challenging market.
Strategies for Internationalisation: How Chinese SMEs Deal with Distance and Market Entry Speed
The authors of this chapter investigate internationalisation strategies of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in China. We highlight the specific challenges that Chinese SMEs encounter when selecting international country markets in terms of distance and entry speed. The authors adopt an ambidexterity perspective that differs from traditional explanations of internationalisation behaviour by highlighting the need to balance seemingly disparate options for international expansion. Three cases provide an illustration of how Chinese companies combine distant with proximate market entries and slow with accelerated entry speed. The authors highlight how these strategies can drive and enhance international aspirations of Chinese SMEs.
The motivation for a firm to operate overseas can vary significantly among smaller firms. The reasons why firms internationalise, rather than remain in the domestic market, vary depending upon: their industry, their home country, their managers’ perceptions and decision-making orientation. Companies are influenced by different motivations to reach foreign markets and use different strategies including different entry modes. These motivations can be internal or external, reactive or proactive. This chapter begins by focusing on how different motivations of firms can influence their success in foreign markets from a generic perspective. The authors then present a case study of Brazilian small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the shoe industry, a traditional, low-technology sector, which play an important role in the Brazilian economy. The shoe industry changed significantly over time, until the 1970s had little international experience, in the 1990s was impacted by new Asian market competition, illustrating with firm examples taken from interviews, how SMEs have had to evolve and change their international strategic approaches and motivations over time. The authors conclude with perspectives on SME specificities. Understanding what motivates shoe firms to go abroad and their internationalisation behaviour allows us to provide some suggestions to SME managers in their process of expansion into international markets.
- Publication date
- Book series
- International Business and Management
- Series copyright holder
- Emerald Publishing Limited
- Book series ISSN