Sustaining Growth and Performance in East Asia
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Sustaining Growth and Performance in East Asia

The Role of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Edited by Charles Harvie and Boon-Chye Lee

This third book in the series focuses on how small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute to achieving and sustaining growth and performance in their economies, as well as the ways in which governments can assist and enhance that contribution. This is of particular concern given the trauma suffered by East Asian economies in the wake of the financial and economic crisis of 1997–98.
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Chapter 9: Key Issues in Understanding the Internationalization Process of the Small Firm: An Australian Perspective

Susan Freeman


9. Key issues in understanding the internationalization process of the small firm: an Australian perspective Susan Freeman 9.1 INTRODUCTION The global nature of many industries and the changes in working practices, which have emerged over recent years, are forcing many small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) to consider internationalizing their activities at a very early stage (Oviatt and McDougall, 1997; Keogh et al., 1998; Coviello and McAuley, 1999; Styles, 1998; Atkins and Lowe, 1994). Many studies and conceptual papers in the field of internationalization (Johanson and Vahlne, 1977; Welch and Luostarinen, 1988; Sullivan, 1994) and globalization (Porter, 1990; Ohmae, 1990; Yip, 1992, 1998) have discussed and addressed how rapidly internationalization has become a more desirable option for firms than in the past. This is primarily due to improvements in international communications and transportation and increased homogeneity of international markets (Welch, 1978; Siu and Kirby, 1998; Cafferata and Mensi, 1995; Leonidas et al., 1999). This increasing incidence of firm internationalization is not restricted to large firms. There is evidence that both small and medium-sized firms are also rapidly internationalizing, and often early in their development (Jack and Bower, 1997; Atkins and Lowe, 1994). In an empirical Scottish study by Jack and Bower (1997), where there were many small firms based in this small home market, early internationalization, assisted by networking, was seen as an important part of their development strategy to ensure growth and indeed survival. Greater understanding of the particular problems facing small businesses is of practical importance for those...

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