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 33: Internationalization of Slovenian SMEs as a Learning and Unlearning Process

Miroslav Rebernik and Ksenja Pušnik


Miroslav Rebernik and Ksenja Pusnik Introduction The ability to engage in exporting activities is a necessary ingredient to ensure the survival and growth of SMEs, especially in a small market economy, like Slovenia. Globalization processes, transition to a market economy, membership of the European Union, progress in telecommunications and transport, and utilization of the Internet have opened up completely new business possibilities for Slovenian SMEs and at the same time exposed them to fiercer international competition. Our contribution seeks to enhance understanding of the internationalization of SMEs in Slovenia and in this perspective the importance of learning and unlearning processes for encouraging further internationalization of SMEs. Despite the importance of internationalization processes and the volume of research in the field, there is still insufficient knowledge about factors associated with the ability of SMEs to be engaged in international activities. Looking at internationalization as the product of a series of incremental decisions (Johanson and Vahlne, 1990), the decisions on improving the level of knowledge and skills are very important, especially when we consider internationalization to be pathdependent, based on experience, sequential, local and relied upon feedback (Blomstermo et al., 2004). Internationalization of firms implies accumulating new knowledge (ibid.), but at the same time also discarding the knowledge that became obsolete (Hedberg, 1984; Eriksson et al., 1997, Windeknecht and Delahaye, 2004; Blomstermo et al., 2004). In this perspective, not only the process of learning but also the process of unlearning is of special importance when discussing the internationalization of the Slovenian...

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