liu.seSearch for publications in DiVA
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
The Internationalization of SMEs: An Interactive Perspective of Firm-Level Entrepreneurship and Network Structure
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Industrial Economics. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The positive relationship of firm-level entrepreneurship and performance has received much attention in recent years and has become an attractive title in the entrepreneurship literature. This popularity encourages researchers to study the role played by the phenomenon on other organizational outputs such as internationalization. Until now, the majority of international studies have put their attention on the conceptual explanation of the interaction, and the number of empirical studies on the subject is few. Furthermore, almost all the empirical studies have been performed in developed and emerging markets, and developing areas such as the Middle East are nearly ignored.

In the real context of Iranian business, policymakers support entrepreneurship as a proven way to improve the internationalization of smaller companies. Following this assumption, several supportive plans have been designed and executed which aim to increase the entrepreneurial status of SMEs as a way to enhance their internationalization. A question worth answering here is: Does having a better entrepreneurial stature mean better internationalization for Iranian SMEs? To answer this question and to fill the gap in the literature on the subject, this research explains the relationship of firm-level entrepreneurship and the internationalization of Iranian SMEs.

To resolve the current conceptualization problem of firm-level entrepreneurship and to respect a broad conceptualization of entrepreneurship, a profile measurement model was employed in which companies are classified into four different groups: non-entrepreneurial, forced entrepreneurial, latent entrepreneurial, and actual entrepreneurial. This profile model incorporates the two popular constructs of entrepreneurial orientation and corporate entrepreneurship to determine the entrepreneurial stature of a company. Surprisingly, while the literature predicted the highest level of internationalization for actual entrepreneurial companies, the forced entrepreneurial firms showed the best internationalization in reality. The only exception was when the environments became very hostile, in which the actual entrepreneurial SMEs suppressed the forced entrepreneurial, showing better internationalization. These unexpected conclusions led the researcher to consider the complementary role of business networks. A case study approach was applied. The results revealed the importance of actor type in the decision to enter a foreign market, structural holes in identifying international opportunities, and network closure in realizing the opportunities. In simpler words, the forced entrepreneurial company held a better position to receive the information about international markets because most actors who dealt with them where international companies. In addition, it enjoyed an external network rich of structural holes and a dense internal network, which respectively facilitated the exploration and exploitation of subsequent international opportunities.

All in all, however, firm-level entrepreneurship seems an important factor of companies’ internationalization that could somehow justify why entrepreneurial companies show better international activities than nonentrepreneurial firms, it is not able to explain how different types of entrepreneurial companies could hold different levels of internationalization. This is the mutual interaction of entrepreneurial status and the network structure that presents a powerful explanation of the difference in internationalization among companies. Therefore, researchers are invited to focus more on a configurational analysis of firm-level entrepreneurship, network structure, and internationalization, and policymakers are recommended to see both entrepreneurship and business networks when they design a supportive plan to improve the internationalization of SMEs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. , 231 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1776
Keyword [en]
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), Firm-level entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial orientation, corporate entrepreneurship, internationalization, and business network
National Category
Economics and Business
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-129230DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-129230ISBN: 978-91-7685-734-2 (Print)OAI: diva2:936594
Public defence
2016-09-16, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:00 (English)

In the printed version is the ISBN incorrrect: 978-91-7519-497-4. The ISBN is corrected in the electronic version.

Available from: 2016-06-14 Created: 2016-06-14 Last updated: 2016-08-22Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

The Internationalization of SMEs: An Interactive Perspective of Firm-Level Entrepreneurship and Network Structure(6652 kB)38 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT02.pdfFile size 6652 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf
omslag(2869 kB)31 downloads
File information
File name COVER01.pdfFile size 2869 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type coverMimetype application/pdf

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Hosseini, Mojtaba
By organisation
Industrial EconomicsFaculty of Science & Engineering
Economics and Business

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 39 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 356 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link