Edited by Mika Gabrielsson and V. H. Manek Kirpalani
Jukka Partanen and Per Servais INTRODUCTION Rapidly growing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are known for their highly important role for generating new knowledge, innovations, and employment, and, as consequence, their contribution to the well-being of society (Storey 1994). Small growth-oriented firms are also resource-poor actors, which often have to adopt a niche strategy, that is, focus on their core competency and a few key customer segments (Knight and Cavusgil 2004). Since domestic markets can be limited in terms of sufficient number of customers, growth-oriented firms often need to seek new growth opportunities on international markets and to form ‘born global’ firms (Madsen and Servais 1997). In order to overcome this resource scarcity or ‘liability of smallness’ (Stinchcombe 1965; Hannan and Freeman 1984), small firms complement their resources by engaging in different kinds of inter-firm networks (Hoang and Antoncic 2003; Maurer and Ebers 2006). Indeed, the current body of knowledge on SME networks recognizes several categories of inter-firm networks including customers (Shaw 2006), downstream networks (Lechner and Dowling 2003; Schutjens and Stam 2003), R&D networks (McGee and Dowling 1994; Lechner and Dowling 2003; Rickne 2006) and upstream networks (Lipparini and Sobrero 1994; Schutjens and Stam 2003). While the recent literature on born globals recognizes the utilization of networks as a distribution channel strategy (Gabrielsson and Kirpalani 2004), export arrangements (Chetty and Holm 2000) or more generally ‘alternative governance structures’ (Oviatt and McDougall 1994), previous studies have not examined the role of networks in sourcing of born global firms (Ratti...
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