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Sunk internationalisation : small firms and global knowledge


  • Roberto Grandinetti
  • Enzo Rullani


[fre] Ce papier aborde tout d'abord les raisons pour lesquelles les petites et moyennes entreprises sont absentes des théories des relations internationales. Cette absence n'est pas due au hasard et renvoie fondamentalement à l'attitude particulière des théories traditionnelles envers la PME. Selon ces approches, la firme est isolée de son système de relations et par conséquent du système de division du travail dans lequel elle s'inscrit. Les conditions nécessaires à la construction d'une théorie générale, applicable à la fois aux grandes et aux petites entreprises, sont alors définies. Dans cet esprit, les auteurs considèrent qu'une théorie générale de l'internationalisation des firmes doit s'appuyer sur la division du travail, des connaissances et des modes d'apprentissages entre les divers environnements nationaux et culturels. Petites et grandes entreprises contribuent de diverses manières à cette division. La dernière partie de l'article synthétise les enseignements que la théorie peut retirer des pratiques des PME dynamiques sur les marchés internationaux. [eng] In this paper, the reasons behind the absence of small firms in the theories of internationalisation are first of all examined. This scarce attention is not casual, but is due to a more fundamental and general distortion in conventional theory's attitude towards small firms : the isolation of the firm from its system of relations and, therefore, from its system of labour division.. Then the conditions required to construct a general theory that will be valid for both large and small firms are defined. The authors sustain that a general theory of internationalisation is essentially a theory concerning the world-wide division of learning process between different national environments and cultures. Small and large firms can contribute in different ways to this task.. The final part of the article brings together the lessons that the theory can learn from the experiences of those small firms that have shown dynamism on foreign markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Grandinetti & Enzo Rullani, 1994. "Sunk internationalisation : small firms and global knowledge," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 67(1), pages 238-254.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:recind:rei_0154-3229_1994_num_67_1_1521
    Note: DOI:10.3406/rei.1994.1521

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    Cited by:

    1. Elio Iannuzzi & Massimiliano Berardi, 2012. "Italian industrial districts: crisis or evolution?," World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 8(1), pages 23-36.
    2. Eleonora Di Maria & Stefano Micelli, 2007. "District leaders as open networks: emerging business strategies in Italian industrial districts," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0038, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    3. Minguzzi, Antonio & Passaro, Renato, 2001. "The network of relationships between the economic environment and the entrepreneurial culture in small firms," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-207, March.
    4. Chiarvesio, Maria & Di Maria, Eleonora & Micelli, Stefano, 2004. "From local networks of SMEs to virtual districts?: Evidence from recent trends in Italy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1509-1528, December.
    5. Christian Schwens & Ruediger Kabst, 2009. "Early internationalization: A transaction cost economics and structural embeddedness perspective," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 323-340, December.

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