Policy and Strategy Perspectives
The McGill International Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Hamid Etemad and Richard Wright
Kittinoot Chulikavit and Jerman Rose INTRODUCTION Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in most of the economies of the world. In the last decade researchers have increasingly been interested in how SMEs contribute to economic growth and development (Rovere, 1996; von Potobsky, 1992). While the term ‘SME’ is widespread, there is no generally agreed deﬁnition that isolates this type of organization (Yusof and Aspinwall, 2000; von Potobsky, 1992). A variety of deﬁnitions for SMEs can be seen among diﬀerent countries (von Potobsky, 1992), industries and government agencies (Yusof and Aspinwall, 2000). Some researchers have deﬁned SMEs on quantitative criteria while some others have used qualitative criteria (von Potobsky, 1992). Quantitative criteria involve factors such as: sales ﬁgures, social assets, number of employees, number of customers, value of the equipment, capital investment, production, levels of energy consumption, and so on. But because these quantitative limits diﬀer from country to country, even something so apparently concrete as a quantitative limit causes misunderstandings. Qualitative criteria, on the other hand, are related to behavioral attributes such as how SMEs are run, how decisions are made, how authority is given, and so on. Since it is the behavior of SMEs that is key to the relationship between emerging electronic commerce and export behavior, we will focus on some of the established qualitative descriptions of SMEs. Using this approach, we have in mind ﬁrms exhibiting production ﬂexibility, adaptability to changing markets (von Potobsky, 1992), ownership, independence (O’Farrell and...
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