Towards a Theory of Internationalization
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Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Isabell M. Welpe, Mary Han and Vanessa Ratten
Chapter 25: The Internationalization of SMEs in Malta: A Critical Assessment in the Context of Five European Island Regions
25 The Internationalization of SMEs in Malta: a critical assessment in the context of ﬁve European island regions Godfrey Baldacchino 1 Introduction Malta is the oﬃcial name of a resource-poor, semi-desert limestone archipelago consisting of two main inhabited islands (Malta and Gozo), with a total surface area of just 316 square km (126 square miles), located some 60 miles oﬀ the southern tip of Sicily. A population of 400 000 makes the Maltese Islands the second most densely populated state in the world, after Singapore. Given its geostrategic location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean, plus its excellent sheltered harbours, the islands have been targets of covetous rulers throughout history, to the extent that the islanders learnt to manage and even appreciate the beneﬁts of a ‘fortress economy’ which boomed in wartime and slumped in peace (Zammit, 1994: 12; Busuttil, 1973: 1). The few indigenous manufacturing industries – such as salt harvesting (during Roman Times) and cotton growing and weaving (during early British rule) – which sought to thrive independently from the military operations, were typically short-lived aﬀairs. The radical revision of Britain’s global military role after the Suez Crisis of 1956 meant that ‘Malta as fortress’ was suddenly expendable, and that a serious economic restructuring would be necessary to develop alternative employment opportunities for the distraught islanders. It was in 1959 that the ﬁrst of six development plans was ushered in (Baldacchino, 1998a); and Malta looked at exportoriented manufacturing fuelled by foreign investment and technology (Sklair, 1993: 1)...
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