Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on European Business and Entrepreneurship

Handbook of Research on European Business and Entrepreneurship

Towards a Theory of Internationalization

Elgar original reference

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Isabell M. Welpe, Mary Han and Vanessa Ratten

This unique Handbook illustrates how entrepreneurs across Europe tackle internationalization. This timely and important book identifies patterns and builds a theory of international entrepreneurship in Europe.

Foreword: A Theory of Internationalization for European Entrepreneurship

David Storey

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, international business


I am both surprised and delighted to be invited to provide this foreword. I am surprised because, while I am interested in small firms that grow rapidly – some of which do so by selling overseas – I have never undertaken any original work specifically on those SMEs with an international focus: instead my research on entrepreneurship is much more about individuals undertaking activities such as widow cleaning, car repairing and hairdressing – hardly sectors likely to spawn ‘born global’ enterprises. My delight comes from being required to read a set of papers and familiarize myself with a literature and data with which I was previously unfamiliar. The evidence proved interesting – at least to me! Starting with the data, I found that the EU SME Observatory reports that the proportion of SMEs that exported varied considerably from one country to another. While the EU-15 average was 8 per cent, it was much higher, at 19 per cent and 17 per cent respectively, for Finland and Denmark, but much lower for the larger countries – particularly France. However, a somewhat different picture emerges when export performance by size class or firm data, taken from Eurostat (2003), are used. Here, for example, large enterprises in Finland supply 80 per cent of exports by tonne value, whereas micro firms provide only 2 per cent. Of course it is possible that the SME Observatory and Eurostat findings are compatible with one another – Finland could have large numbers of SMEs exporting but still only making, in aggregate,...