Towards a Theory of Internationalization
Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Isabell M. Welpe, Mary Han and Vanessa Ratten
Chapter 36: Managing the Challenges of Globalization: Evidence from Swiss Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
Thierry Volery Introduction Globalization and the emergence of internationally active small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are key worldwide trends. During the last decade a paradigm shift occurred: it is now widely recognized that SMEs are a critical driver of employment both in industrialized and developing countries. Policy makers realized that SMEs are uniquely positioned to answer the challenges of an ever-faster globalizing economy. At the same time, the development of a theoretical approach to the internationalization of ﬁrms has existed from the earliest days of international business research, but in the last 30 years that debate has intensiﬁed through the development of a range of theoretical models. Interestingly, many of the earlier research themes are still relevant, as for example Ahroni (1966), who perceived internationalization as a complex social process and advocated a holistic approach to understanding the process and its impact within the ﬁrm and in the marketplace, a view incorporated in some more recent work. What seems to have happened during this period of the evolution of internationalization as a concept is that researchers have employed a range of diﬀerent approaches, which has had the eﬀect of blurring the issues as much as revealing new knowledge. Methodologies have tended to evolve from a situational perspective to a longitudinal approach, seeking to explain internationalization as a dynamic process and, more recently, there has been more emphasis on collaboration between ﬁrms and other organizations in the internationalization process. Beamish (1990) oﬀered a view which is both...
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