Handbook of Research on European Business and Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Research on European Business and Entrepreneurship

Towards a Theory of Internationalization

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.
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Chapter 13: Internationalization of SMEs: The Case of Finland

Asko Miettinen


Asko Miettinen Introduction Firm expansion into a new market can be considered one of the fundamental forms of strategic variation among business organizations. As Martin et al. (1998) have shown, corporate expansion can be viewed as a form of constrained adaptation to growth opportunities. Enterprises that undertake major, discreet expansion moves, such as going international, exercise strategic choice in the sense that their management has substantial influence in determining and selecting among emerging options in terms of occurrence, timing and direction of growth. The object of such expansion is typically to improve performance by increasing profitability, business growth and the chances to survive. Internationalization is not always a separate strategy for an enterprise, be it small or large. Often it is the outcome of a selected growth orientation or growth strategy. This is particularly true in the case of small open economies such as Finland, where domestic markets are limited (the total population of Finland is only 5.2 million). Internationalization is very seldom a slow, step-by-step development, but rather a sudden and major leap in the activities of a smaller enterprise. In exploring internationalization of SMEs, researchers have become increasingly aware of the need to account for influences at multiple levels. It has proved to be difficult to find an overall model which can specify accurately enough all the variables related to internationalization of the firm (Bifulco, 1997). In contrast to what is presented in many textbooks, it is very rare for an enterprise to develop...

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