The Internationalization of Small and Medium-Sized Firms

Posted: 4 Nov 2009

See all articles by Dirk De Clerq

Dirk De Clerq

Brock University - Faculty of Business

Hans Crijns

Vlerick Business School

Harry J. Sapienza

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

Internationalization among small- andmedium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has been the focus of numerous studies. Thiswork expands upon the previous research by examining internationalization froman approach that combines both behavioral theory, including organizationallearning, and the new venture theory of internationalization. To test the hypotheses derived from this theoretical framework, a sample of92 firms is selected in 2000 from a database created by the Center ofEntrepreneurship at the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School in Belgium.Firms included in the sample are independent of large corporations andare owner-managed. In addition, 1999 sales data from a database of theNational Bank of Belgium is utilized. Several factors were measured,including internationalization intent, international learning effort, domesticlearning effort, and entrepreneurial orientation of the firm. The analyses indicate the following findings: seeking and expandingknowledge of foreign markets and the internationalizaiton process may increaseinternationalization by impacting assessments of available opportunities; firmsthat are willing to take bold risks -- i.e., with an entrepreneurial mindset --are more likely to develop a long term international presence; andinternational and domestic learning activities (environmental scanning,intelligence about competitors) are often similarly related to entrepreneurialorientation. However, firms that invest more in domestic rather thaninternationallearning activities are less likely to internationalize,which may impede the firm's long-term accomplishments. (AKP)

Keywords: Knowledge production, Firm behavior, Entrepreneurial orientation, Information seeking, Business intelligence, International expansion, Organizational learning, Information utilization, Risk orientation, Learning theory, Exports & imports, Opportunity recognition, Environmental scanning

Suggested Citation

De Clercq, Dirk and Crijns, Hans and Sapienza, Harry J., The Internationalization of Small and Medium-Sized Firms (2005). Small Business Economics, Vol. 24, Issue 4, p. 409-419 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1498254

Dirk De Clercq (Contact Author)

Brock University - Faculty of Business ( email )

St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1
Canada

Hans Crijns

Vlerick Business School ( email )

Library
REEP 1
Gent, BE-9000
Belgium

Harry J. Sapienza

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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