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 36: Managing the Challenges of Globalization: Evidence from Swiss Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Thierry Volery


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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