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Internationalisation of SMEs from the perspective of social learning theory

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  • Antti Kauppinen

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  • Anita Juho

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    Abstract

    Internationalisation is seen as an important issue for the globalised economy. Therefore, it has been widely investigated among multinational enterprises and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Even though earlier work acknowledges that internationalisation consists of entrepreneurial actions (e.g. discovery and exploitation of an international business opportunity) and learning from the market, detailed understanding of the process of social learning in internationalisation is still lacking. In this study, we use the cycle of expansive learning as a conceptual framework. It shows that entrepreneurial actions between SMEs construct international business opportunities. More specifically, entrepreneurial actions are about learning that constructs and co-creates knowledge. The cycle of expansive learning assumes that such knowledge is social in nature making the very nature of knowledge the basis of claims to explicate what the process of social learning entails. In the context of international entrepreneurship, there is also a by-product of that type of co-created and object-oriented action: the internationalisation of SMEs. The purpose of this study is to explore the internationalisation of SMEs through the cycle of expansive learning to better understand how such a by-product can be created. In examining a story of collaboration between two entrepreneurs, we found the start of the cycle to be more significant than the later stages. From the perspective of social learning, this suggests that entrepreneurs create meanings rather than exploit international opportunities in the business-sense alone. That said, internationalisation happens as a by-product of social acting. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10843-012-0093-6
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of International Entrepreneurship.

    Volume (Year): 10 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 200-231

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jinten:v:10:y:2012:i:3:p:200-231

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=112039

    Related research

    Keywords: International entrepreneurship; Shared object; Social learning; Entrepreneurial actions; Interaction; Small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME);

    References

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    1. Paul D Ellis, 2011. "Social ties and international entrepreneurship: Opportunities and constraints affecting firm internationalization," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 99-127, January.
    2. Hjorth, Daniel & Jones, Campbell & Gartner, William B., 2008. "Introduction for 'Recreating/Recontextualising Entrepreneurship'," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 81-84, June.
    3. Saarenketo, Sami & Puumalainen, Kaisu & Kuivalainen, Olli & Kylaheiko, Kalevi, 2004. "Dynamic knowledge-related learning processes in internationalizing high-tech SMEs," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(3), pages 363-378, June.
    4. Israel M. Kirzner, 1997. "Entrepreneurial Discovery and the Competitive Market Process: An Austrian Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 60-85, March.
    5. Paul Ellis, 2000. "Social Ties and Foreign Market Entry," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 31(3), pages 443-469, September.
    6. Stan D Reid, 1981. "The Decision-Maker and Export Entry and Expansion," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 12(2), pages 101-112, June.
    7. Kiss, Andreea N. & Danis, Wade M., 2008. "Country institutional context, social networks, and new venture internationalization speed," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 388-399, December.
    8. Ardichvili, Alexander & Cardozo, Richard & Ray, Sourav, 2003. "A theory of entrepreneurial opportunity identification and development," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 105-123, January.
    9. Corbett, Andrew C., 2007. "Learning asymmetries and the discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 97-118, January.
    10. Hjorth, Daniel, 2007. "Lessons from Iago: Narrating the event of Entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 712-732, September.
    11. Roger Schweizer & Jan-Erik Vahlne & Jan Johanson, 2010. "Internationalization as an entrepreneurial process," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 343-370, December.
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