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Chapter 27: Irish Perspectives on Developing International Entrepreneurs
Jim Bell, David Demick, Ian Callaghan and Aidan O’Reilly Despite growing policy and research interest in small ﬁrm internationalization (Coviello and McAuley, 1999), little attention has been focused on the international dimensions of entrepreneurship (Oviatt and McDougall, 1994; Mostafa and Wheeler, 2001) and even less on the personal and professional development of international entrepreneurs. The need to address these issues is particularly important in light of the emergence of smaller entrepreneurial ‘born global’ ﬁrms that have been able to take advantage of technological advances to internationalize rapidly (McKinsey & Co., 1993; Coviello, 1994; McDougall et al., 1994; Knight and Cavusgil, 1996). Much has been written on the topic of entrepreneurship and enterprise development (Cromie et al., 1992; Gibb, 1993, 1996; Carson et al., 1995; Westhead and Storey, 1997; Carter and Jones-Evans, 2000; Kurato and Welsch, 2001). Indeed the importance of developing practical skills to support entrepreneurial activities is a central theme in the extant literature. However, Mumford (1993) also contends that ‘individuals can learn but are unlikely to be taught’ and Vickerstaﬀ and Parker (1995) observe that ‘informal on-the-job training is the mainstay of training activities’ in smaller enterprise. To foster these skills in international entrepreneurs, development programmes should focus upon ‘learning experiences’ (Gibb, 1997), rather than formal training content, building on on-the-job learning opportunities. This can be achieved through the involvement of experienced mentors working with groups of small ﬁrms on the ‘hands-on’ application of relevant concepts. In addition to these mentoring activities, Dubini and Aldrich (1991) contend that networks...
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