International Business Review – Volume 26(4), 614–627

Beyond learning by experience: The use of alternative learning processes by incrementally and rapidly internationalizing SMEs

Juan M. Pellegrino; Rod B. McNaughton

  • How firms learn about foreign markets and internationalization processes is an important theme in the literature on SME internationalization, evidenced by the Uppsala model’s emphasis on experiential learning as an explanation for incremental internationalization, and attempts to explain how early and rapid internationalization can be facilitated by alternative modes of learning, especially congenital learning. Yet, the learning processes used, and the content and source of learning, have not been compared systematically, especially with respect to how these evolve as firms become increasingly internationalized. This paper reports the findings of a retrospective longitudinal analysis of the learning processes, sources and foci of four New Zealand-based SMEs that internationalized incrementally, and four that internationalized rapidly. The findings demonstrate that while experiential learning is important, both incrementally and rapidly internationalizing firms use other learning modes at different stages of their internationalization, and that there are differences in the content and source of learning. Thus, the relationship between internationalization and learning processes may be more complex than the literature currently suggests, inviting further exploration of the multiple ways that SMEs learn, and the contingent factors that might influence this.

International Business Review – Volume 26 (4), 652-665

Knowledge and internationalization of returnee entrepreneurial firms

Wensong Bai, Martin Johanson, Oscar Martín Martín

  • This study aims to answer whether and how returnee entrepreneurs’ international experience and returnee entrepreneurial firms’ international market knowledge influence these firms’ internationalization. Anchored in a framework combining an entrepreneurial and knowledge-based view, we develop a model and four hypotheses on the relations between returnee entrepreneurs’ international experience, international market knowledge, international market commitment, and level of internationalization of the returnee entrepreneurial firm. Empirical evidence of the proposed model is derived from a recent sample of Chinese returnee SMEs in knowledge-intensive and high-technology industries. The main finding is that returnee entrepreneurs’ international experience nurtures international market knowledge of returnee entrepreneurial firms, which in turn has a positive effect on these firms’ international market commitment and level of internationalization. In terms of theory, the study extends our understanding of returnee entrepreneurial firms by uncovering the role of returnee entrepreneurs’ international experience and returnee firms’ international market knowledge during their initial and early international expansion

International Business Review – Volume 26(4), 736–748

 Competing on the edge: Implications of network position for internationalizing small- and medium-sized enterprises

Denis Odlin; Maureen Benson-Rea

  • Three generic competitive strategies attributed to internationalizing SMEs of targeting niches, differentiating products and leveraging networks fail to adequately explain how SMEs win customers in other countries against both large and small competitors. This study distinguishes competitive strategy (how firms compete) from competitive advantage, and from competitive engagements where firms deploy their competitive advantages to win customers within business network relationships. By abductively reasoning from the competitive engagements entered into by the internationalizing SMEs from the Fleet Management Systems industry segment in New Zealand, we show that these firms often compete with foreign rivals by using their position on the edge of a business network to leverage information asymmetries across structural holes. We contribute by integrating this conception of internationalizing SME competitive strategy with the business network foundations of the Uppsala internationalization process model.

Technology Innovation Management Review (TIMR) – May 2017

  • The Special Issue on “Lean and Global” contains some interesting IE-oriented articles and can be found here.