Towards a Theory of Internationalization
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Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Isabell M. Welpe, Mary Han and Vanessa Ratten
15 Internationalization of French SMEs Hervé Mesure and Rita Klapper This chapter is the ﬁrst step in a research programme whose objective is to propose a strategic model of independent SME adaptation to internationalization, a model that is expected to be tested empirically. This chapter is based on a number of French-language empirical studies, conducted over a period of ten years, during which we have been able to collect information about the development of the three chosen sectors. To explain some of the empirical ﬁndings we have complemented this information with French-language theoretical work about the internationalization of SMEs. We studied the three sectors by using a conceptual framework based on French-language texts in order to develop a ﬁrst-step modelling relevant to independent French SMEs. This chapter contains two key ideas. First, the adaptation to internationalization appears as a multiform phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the internationalization per se of the SME. Second, the traditional theoretical explanations about the internationalization of SMEs are contested and a list of generic strategies for SME competitiveness in an international context is proposed. After a short introduction we will present the industrial characteristics of the three industries studied; we will consider the internationalization of French independent SMEs within the three industries under review and we will explore how independent French SMEs resist the internationalization of their industry. This is followed by an elaboration based on our argument that the adaptation of SMEs to the internationalization of their industries must ﬁrst be thought of...
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