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Trading Places – SMEs in the Global Economy

A Critical Research Handbook

Edited by Lester Lloyd-Reason and Leigh Sear

Lester Lloyd-Reason and Leigh Sear bring together leading researchers and thinkers in this critical guide to the ongoing, worldwide research shaping the role played by SMEs within today’s global economy. The expert contributors contend that the past twenty years have seen an explosion in research into international SMEs, resulting in a considerable body of academic literature and thinking. This research, they argue, may merely serve to increase our lack of understanding in this area, and often results in myths and misconceptions upon which SME policies and support programmes have been developed and introduced.
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Chapter 11: Foresights, Futures and Scenarios for the Global SME

Stuart Smith


Stuart Smith Introduction This chapter aims to show how ‘futures thinking’ can benefit the development and support of international SMEs or those SMEs wishing to engage with international trading. It aims to do this by introducing the reader to future thinking methodologies and also by presenting a range of visions of plausible SME ‘internationalisation’ futures. The material contained herein is a synthesis of data, anecdote, personal experience and theory. The main objective of the chapter is not to provide empirical evidence for the alternative future scenarios presented, rather to stimulate thinking. As we shall see, the main purpose of ‘futures thinking’ is to do just that. This chapter should be of particular interest to support agencies engaged in developing the global SME and to those running and working in global SMEs. The global economic building block The world has always been a global market, but over recent decades we have seen an increasing pace of change and global connectivity, which results in the phenomenon popularly labelled as ‘globalisation’. There is much academic discussion about whether globalisation is a real phenomenon or only an analytical artefact (‘a myth’). Although the term is widespread, many argue that the characteristics of the phenomenon have already been seen at other moments in history. Some may also conclude that those features that make people believe we are in the process of globalisation, including the increase in international trade and the greater role of multinational corporations, are not as deeply established as they may first...

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