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International business competence and the contemporary firm


  • Gary A Knight

    (College of Business, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA)

  • Daekwan Kim

    (College of Business, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA)


The trend of increasing internationalization of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is noteworthy, because such firms typically have far fewer financial and tangible resources than large multinational enterprises. As a result, international business is often more challenging for smaller firms. In this study we investigate the widespread internationalization of SMEs, and specific factors that support their superior performance abroad. We uncover a collection of intangible capabilities that are especially salient to these firms and their growing international involvement. We identify international business competence (IBC) as an intangible, overarching firm resource that engenders superior international performance in the international SME. Through case studies and a comprehensive literature review, we identify four dimensions of IBC. We devise and assess a model that links IBC to SME international performance. Results suggest that international orientation, international marketing skills, international innovativeness, and international market orientation are all significant dimensions of IBC, and that IBC is instrumental in SME international performance. We discuss resultant findings and offer managerial implications. Journal of International Business Studies (2009) 40, 255–273; doi:10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400397

Suggested Citation

  • Gary A Knight & Daekwan Kim, 2009. "International business competence and the contemporary firm," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 40(2), pages 255-273, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:40:y:2009:i:2:p:255-273

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    Cited by:

    1. Yan Shigang & Liu Guozhi, 2017. "Competitive Strategy, Market Entry Mode and International Performance: The Case of Construction Firms in China," Business and Management Studies, Redfame publishing, vol. 3(1), pages 1-9, March.
    2. Liliya Oxtorp, 2014. "Dynamic managerial capability of technology-based international new ventures—a basis for their long-term competitive advantage," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 389-420, December.
    3. Martineau, Charles & Pastoriza, David, 2016. "International involvement of established SMEs: A systematic review of antecedents, outcomes and moderators," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 458-470.
    4. Jean, Ruey Jer “Bryan”, 2014. "What makes export manufacturers pursue functional upgrading in an emerging market? A study of Chinese technology new ventures," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 741-749.
    5. Fernández-Olmos, Marta & Díez-Vial, Isabel, 2013. "Effect of firm’s resources on international diversification: An application in the Iberian Ham industry," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 196-208.
    6. Boehe, Dirk Michael, 2011. "Collaborate at home to win abroad: How does access to local network resources influence export behavior?," Insper Working Papers wpe_248, Insper Working Paper, Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa.
    7. Nishant Kumar, 2012. "The resource dynamics of early internationalising Indian IT firms," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 255-278, September.
    8. Gerschewski, Stephan & Xiao, Simon Shufeng, 2015. "Beyond financial indicators: An assessment of the measurement of performance for international new ventures," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 615-629.
    9. Fleury, Afonso & Fleury, Maria Tereza Leme & Borini, Felipe Mendes, 2012. "Is production the core competence for the internationalization of emerging country firms?," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(1), pages 439-449.
    10. repec:wsi:ijimxx:v:21:y:2017:i:01:n:s1363919617500050 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Nordman, Emilia Rovira & Tolstoy, Daniel, 2016. "The impact of opportunity connectedness on innovation in SMEs’ foreign-market relationships," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 57, pages 47-57.
    12. Basly Sami, 2015. "Family Involvement in the Firm and Exports in the Family SME: Is the Manager’s International Orientation Influential?," Journal of Intercultural Management, De Gruyter Open, vol. 7(3), pages 69-99, September.
    13. Yu Xie & Taewon Suh, 2014. "Perceived resource deficiency and internationalization of small- and medium-sized firms," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 207-229, September.
    14. Paul, Justin & Parthasarathy, Sundar & Gupta, Parul, 2017. "Exporting challenges of SMEs: A review and future research agenda," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 327-342.
    15. Majidah Hassan Author_Email: NIL & Grace McCarthy, 2011. "Influential Organisational Capabilities For Smes’ Export Performance: An Exploratory Study," Annual Summit on Business and Entrepreneurial Studies (ASBES 2011) Proceeding 2011-045-168, Conference Master Resources.
    16. Louis Raymond & Josée St-Pierre & Sylvestre Uwizeyemungu & Thang Dinh, 2014. "Internationalization capabilities of SMEs: A comparative study of the manufacturing and industrial service sectors," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 230-253, September.
    17. Indujeeva Peiris & Michèle Akoorie & Paresha Sinha, 2012. "International entrepreneurship: A critical analysis of studies in the past two decades and future directions for research," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 279-324, December.
    18. Cahen, Fernanda Ribeiro & Lahiri, Somnath & Borini, Felipe Mendes, 2016. "Managerial perceptions of barriers to internationalization: An examination of Brazil's new technology-based firms," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 1973-1979.
    19. Gerschewski, Stephan & Rose, Elizabeth L. & Lindsay, Valerie J., 2015. "Understanding the drivers of international performance for born global firms: An integrated perspective," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 558-575.
    20. Haapanen, Lauri & Juntunen, Mari & Juntunen, Jouni, 2016. "Firms' capability portfolios throughout international expansion: A latent class approach," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 5578-5586.
    21. Oura, Mauricio Massao & Zilber, Silvia Novaes & Lopes, Evandro Luiz, 2016. "Innovation capacity, international experience and export performance of SMEs in Brazil," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 921-932.
    22. Kontinen, Tanja & Ojala, Arto, 2010. "The internationalization of family businesses: A review of extant research," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 97-107, June.
    23. Casillas, José C. & Moreno, Ana M. & Acedo, Francisco J., 2012. "Path dependence view of export behaviour: A relationship between static patterns and dynamic configurations," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 465-479.

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