Handbook of Research on International Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Research on International Entrepreneurship

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana

This unique reference book provides an array of diverse perspectives on international entrepreneurship, a new and emerging field of research that blends concepts and methodologies from more traditional social sciences. The Handbook includes chapters written by top researchers of economics and sociology, as well as academic leaders in the fields of entrepreneurship and international business. State-of-the-art contributions provide up-to-date literature reviews, making this book essential for the researcher of entrepreneurship and the internationalisation of entrepreneurs.
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Chapter 23: Three Case Studies from Finland

Niina Nummela


Niina Nummela The number of small firms operating on international markets has been growing, and simultaneously the process of internationalization has been accelerating. During the last decade, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)1 have been the object of increasing interest. Politicians, governmental bodies and academics have re-evaluated the significance of this group of firms, and currently regard them as significant sources of wealth and employment. On the other hand, thanks to improved communication systems and the deregulation of tariff barriers, ‘the world is getting smaller’. Consequently SMEs are pushed towards and pulled away from international markets. The number of small firms operating internationally has been growing, slowly but steadily. Some researchers have also discovered that the time lag for SME internationalization (that is, the time from the establishment of the firm to the first export delivery) has become shorter (for empirical evidence, see, for example, Hurmerinta-Peltomäki, 2001; Christensen, 1991).2 This kind of acceleration requires that small firms also acquire the resources and skills needed for international operations more quickly than before. What does this mean from the perspective of the internationalizing company? At the company level, internationalization seems to be a growth process that is tightly intertwined with the company’s other activities (cf. Jones, 1999). Moreover, internationalization at the individual level has become a crucial factor, particularly because experience and learning are considered key features. However it remains unclear how the key business operations change during internationalization, and what kind of resources and skills – at both...

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