The Theory and Practice of Entrepreneurship
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The Theory and Practice of Entrepreneurship

Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research

Edited by David Smallbone, João Leitão, Mário Raposo and Friederike Welter

This timely book provides a fresh perspective on contemporary research in the field of entrepreneurship and small business, considering both theory and application.
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Chapter 6: Knowledge and Experience in the Internationalization of Knowledge-Intensive Firms

Niina Nummela, Sami Saarenketo, Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki and Kaisu Puumalainen


Niina Nummela, Sami Saarenketo, Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki and Kaisu Puumalainen INTRODUCTION Our understanding of the role of knowledge and experience in internationalization is twofold. First, there are a significant number of studies in the field of entrepreneurship, in which this theme is addressed, particularly from the experiential perspective. Indeed, several studies have shown that entrepreneurs who have been involved in earlier entrepreneurial activities are generally able to manage a new start-up more effectively (see, for example, Alsos and Kolvereid 1998; Iacobucci and Rosa 2003; Westhead and Wright 1998; Westhead et al. 2003). In other words, the level of experience is positively associated with the performance of the firm, that is, the longer the experience, the better the performance. This is in line with the prevalent line of thinking according to which previous entrepreneurial experience could be considered an essential form of entrepreneurial learning (Sullivan 2000), and may result in the more efficient processing of information and the better identification and innovative exploitation of new business opportunities (Ucbasaran et al. 2009). Secondly, knowledge and other types of experience have also been associated with the internationalization of entrepreneurial firms. Johanson and Vahlne (1977) in their seminal paper on the internationalization of the firm pointed out that market knowledge was a decisive element. The underlying thought in their process model was that the more experience of international operations the company accumulated and the higher the number of markets, the more internationalized it would become. This research tradition also highlights the importance of...

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