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Edited by Léo-Paul Dana
Chapter 23: Three Case Studies from Finland
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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