Towards a Theory of Internationalization
Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Isabell M. Welpe, Mary Han and Vanessa Ratten
Chapter 5: Internationalization of SMEs in Belarus
Friederike Welter, David Smallbone, Anton Slonimski and Marina Slonimska Introduction Small enterprises are considered to play an important role in contributing to economic development. Their potential role includes generating employment, contributing to the development of a diversiﬁed economic structure, contributing to the trade balance through export earnings or import substitution and, in some cases, as a source of innovative activity (Acs and Audretsch, 1993). Whilst these are roles which SMEs can perform in any economy, there are aspects during the transition period which suggest that SMEs may have additional contributions to make (Smallbone and Welter, 2001b). For example, the development of SMEs can contribute to economic adjustment from highly concentrated structures that were overly focused on manufacturing industry based on mass production methods and relatively inﬂexible production processes. SME development in transition economies can also contribute to the process of privatization and/or the restitution of property. In the more advanced of the former command economies (e.g. Poland, Estonia), SMEs have contributed signiﬁcantly to the internationalization of the economies during the transition period. In this context, Belarus is one of those transition economies, where slow progress towards a market economy has been made over the past 15 years, where government is not committed to supporting private entrepreneurship, and where small and medium enterprises (SME) experience an increasingly hostile institutional environment. For example, regulations for private enterprises have increased since the mid-1990s, rendering the majority of private ﬁrms illegal unless they were able to meet the minimum capital requirements...
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