Handbook of Research on European Business and Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Research on European Business and Entrepreneurship

Towards a Theory of Internationalization

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Isabell M. Welpe, Mary Han and Vanessa Ratten

This unique Handbook illustrates how entrepreneurs across Europe tackle internationalization. This timely and important book identifies patterns and builds a theory of international entrepreneurship in Europe.
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Chapter 21: Italian SME International Strategies: State of the Art and Some Empirical Evidences

Alberto Mattiacci, Christian Simoni and Lorenzo Zanni


1 Alberto Mattiacci, Christian Simoni and Lorenzo Zanni Introduction The aim of this chapter is to analyse the role of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Italy and their recent competitive strategies facing globalization. In particular, we focus on firms in the fashion business considered in a broad sense (textile, apparel, shoes, leather goods, gold and jewellery). ‘Made in Italy’ – and particularly ‘in Tuscany’ – has strong market power and a worldwide known reputation in the fashion industry (firms such as Gucci, Prada and Ferragamo are located in Tuscany). Nevertheless, after years of constant growth, the Italian fashion industry has steadily slowed down, partly as a consequence of a negative international conjuncture and of the emergence of new competitors (such as China). In this changed competitive scenario, we focus on a few specific research objectives, summarized in the following research questions: 1. 2. Among the numerous relevant variables, what are the peculiarities of Italian SMEs? Among the competitive dynamics of the fashion business, how important is the territory and belonging to a local cluster, in differentiating firm performances; to what extent does it influence the entrepreneurial development? Within the above-mentioned clusters, do firms have homogeneous or different structural characteristics and behaviours? In the case of differences, is it possible to identify business typologies? At first glance, a few ‘leading firms’ seem to play a primary role in the local development process and to be characterized by a different endowment of resources and competencies when compared...

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