Internationalization of small and medium–sized enterprises


Small and medium sized enterprises have increasingly turned into multinationals. Yet, paths of internationalization have depended on contracts, contacts and information at least originating in the home context. There are different types of SME multinationalization strategies. Based on the assumption that relative resource scarcity in SMEs makes a resource dependency approach desirable, more than for the commonly investigated larger MNEs, we investigated the internationalization profile and autonomous versus cooperative use of resources of SMEs in France, Germany, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands, in six regions, in engineering and software firms, under the influence of size and age of the firm, regional embeddedness, regional properity, and the product life cycle, for 58 enterprises. Data collection was by case visits with semi-standardized interviewing and a standardized questionnaire. Here, findings are based on multivariate regression and correlation analysis. Main findings are that firm embeddedness in relational networks is the best explanatory variable, to explain the use of resources as an important aspect of the factual internationalization strategy. Embeddedness is also related to size and age of the firm. The internationalization attitude of the firm is, by contrast, mainly related to regional prosperity. There are indications that the relation between firm size and the use of resources is curvilinear. Overall, SMEs tend to evolve, by learning, different trajectories of internationalization, which are related to different ways of building up resources.

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Selected Publications

Katharina Bluhm, Maryse Brand, Michèle Dupré, Gerda Gemser, Delano Maccow, Angelo Michelsons, Angelo Pichierri, Rudi Schmidt, Arndt Sorge, Bernd Teufel, and Georg Adam : Turning Regional Dwarfs into International Giants - A Tool-kit for Internationalising SMEs, 2002, 45.

Bluhm, Katharina; Schmidt, Rudi (Eds.), Change in SMEs: Towards a New European Capitalism?, Houndmills: Palgrave 2008,  303.