Edited by Hamid Etemad, Stefano Denicolai, Birgit Hagen and Antonella Zuchella
Chapter 7: Formal inter-firm cooperation and international expansion: how Italian SMEs are using the network contract
AbstractThis chapter analyzes a new legislative instrument called the “network contract,” which was designed to support inter-firm cooperation, in order to verify whether this type of formal cooperation represents a relevant driver of change in small firms’ strategic orientation regarding internationalization. Results indicate that internationalization does not represent the main goal of firms participating in network contracts: Italian SMEs use this instrument to achieve different strategies of growth and long-term objectives. We found that some firms have increased their business activity abroad after joining the network. However, firms with a previous history of internationalization did not seem to have changed their approach regarding the international dimension. Consequently, the network contract is not qualified to be the most suitable tool for promoting internationalization among domestic firms, although internationalization may emerge as a by-product of inter-firm relationships.
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