A Critical Research Handbook
Edited by Lester Lloyd-Reason and Leigh Sear
Chapter 10: The Choreography of Internationalisation: Innovative Forms of Learning and Activities of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in International Markets
Jay Mitra Introduction The successful internationalisation of small and medium-sized ﬁrms (SMEs) is a function of their learning process and environments. Based on this hypothesis, this chapter examines a range of theoretical models and some empirical evidence to identify the modes, forms and methods of learning adopted by SMEs as they enter and grow in an international business environment. Learning for internationalisation operates at various levels. Individual entrepreneurs bring to bear their own knowledge and experience, growing ﬁrms accumulate knowledge and skills with which to interact with international partners, and the environment in which ﬁrms operate also opens up opportunities for learning. Various forms of learning (such as ‘imitating’ by ‘doing’, or ‘interacting’ by ‘clustering’) enable identiﬁcation of opportunities for innovation and their realisation. In the international environment ﬁrms take diﬀerent routes to enter and operate in unfamiliar territory. How they reduce uncertainties in such territory is the basis of new product, service and business development, together with changes to organisational forms necessary for sustaining these developments. Using the metaphor of the theatre, this chapter explores diﬀerent forms of learning at multiple levels of individual, organisational and pan-organisational eﬀort. Consideration of each of these levels of learning yields ﬁve sets of propositions. Taken together, these propositions oﬀer a framework for analysing how ﬁrms internationalise and why they adopt diﬀerent strategies for engaging in the international market. The chapter identiﬁes complex forms of learning associated with SME internationalisation strategies and actions, and ends with...
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