The Role of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises
Edited by Charles Harvie and Boon-Chye Lee
Chapter 9: Key Issues in Understanding the Internationalization Process of the Small Firm: An Australian Perspective
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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