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Social ties and international entrepreneurship: Opportunities and constraints affecting firm internationalization

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  • Paul D Ellis

    (Department of Management & Marketing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

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    Abstract

    International entrepreneurship involves the identification and exploitation of opportunities for international exchange. Yet little is known about the entrepreneurial methods used for opportunity recognition. While previous work emphasizes effects operating at the level of the business network, I propose that the recognition of exchange opportunities is a highly subjective process, shaped by entrepreneurs’ existing ties with others. Based on interview data collected from 41 managers, I develop a comprehensive measure for classifying different methods of opportunity recognition. I then use this measure to classify 665 international exchange ventures set up by entrepreneurs in four Chinese cities. In contrast with past research I find virtually no role for blind luck. Although the majority of exchange opportunities were discovered rather than sought, these discoveries were intentional rather than accidental. I also find that entrepreneurs’ idiosyncratic connections with others both promote and inhibit international exchange. Tie-based opportunities lead to higher-quality and more valuable exchanges that are constrained in terms of geographic, psychic and linguistic distance. From this I conclude that entrepreneurial networks have distinct opportunity horizons that limit the reach of tie-based exchanges and potentially lead to sub-optimal internationalization trajectories.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal Journal of International Business Studies.

    Volume (Year): 42 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 99-127

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    Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:42:y:2011:i:1:p:99-127

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    Web page: http://www.palgrave-journals.com/

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    Cited by:
    1. Lau, Victor P. & Dimitrova, Mihaela N. & Shaffer, Margaret A. & Davidkov, Tzvetan & Yordanova, Desislava I., 2012. "Entrepreneurial Readiness and Firm Growth: An Integrated Etic and Emic Approach," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 147-159.
    2. Humphery-Jenner, Mark & Powell, Ronan, 2014. "Firm size, sovereign governance, and value creation: Evidence from the acquirer size effect," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 57-77.
    3. Thor Sigfusson & Simon Harris, 2012. "The relationship formation paths of international entrepreneurs," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 325-349, December.
    4. Sigfusson, Thor & Harris, Simon, 2013. "Domestic market context and international entrepreneurs’ relationship portfolios," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 243-258.
    5. Galina Shirokova & Patricia McDougall-Covin, 2012. "The role of social networks and institutions in the internationalization of Russian entrepreneurial firms: Do they matter?," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 177-199, September.
    6. Ciravegna, Luciano & Lopez, Luis & Kundu, Sumit, 2014. "Country of origin and network effects on internationalization: A comparative study of SMEs from an emerging and developed economy," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(5), pages 916-923.
    7. Antti Kauppinen & Anita Juho, 2012. "Internationalisation of SMEs from the perspective of social learning theory," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 200-231, September.
    8. Jean-Marie Nkongolo-Bakenda & Elie Chrysostome, 2013. "Engaging diasporas as international entrepreneurs in developing countries: In search of determinants," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 30-64, March.
    9. Dimitratos, Pavlos & Amorós, José Ernesto & Etchebarne, María Soledad & Felzensztein, Christian, 2014. "Micro-multinational or not? International entrepreneurship, networking and learning effects," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(5), pages 908-915.
    10. Ciravegna, Luciano & Majano, Sara B. & Zhan, Ge, 2014. "The inception of internationalization of small and medium enterprises: The role of activeness and networks," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(6), pages 1081-1089.
    11. Eberhard, Manuel & Craig, Justin, 2013. "The evolving role of organisational and personal networks in international market venturing," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 385-397.
    12. Fernhaber, Stephanie A. & Li, Dan, 2013. "International exposure through network relationships: Implications for new venture internationalization," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 316-334.
    13. Syed Anwar & Susan Tariq, 2011. "Evolution of entrepreneurship and organizational configurations at Zildjian, 1623–2010," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 175-194, September.

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