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Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Global Markets: A Differential Approach for Services?


  • Iza Lejárraga


  • Humberto López Rizzo

    (University of Paris I)

  • Harald Oberhofer

    (University of Salzburg)

  • Susan Stone


  • Ben Shepherd

    (Developing Trade Consultants Ltd.)


This study empirically investigates key restrictions to the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in manufacturing and across different types of services. The study explores the extent to which binding constraints faced by SMEs producing goods may differ from small firms operating in services sectors and takes stock of how existing policy initiatives address some of these differences. Our results suggest that while firm size clearly influences the trade performance of SMEs in manufacturing, it is an ambiguous predictor of export performance in the case of small-sized services firms. The findings show that firm size influences the choice of export channel and that small firms rely more on indirect and agglomeration networks. Finally, the results point to a strong degree of firm-level heterogeneity across services activities and enterprise size. It would seem that incorporating sectoral and size heterogeneity into existing policies might be desirable to address key constraints for SMEs.

Suggested Citation

  • Iza Lejárraga & Humberto López Rizzo & Harald Oberhofer & Susan Stone & Ben Shepherd, 2014. "Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Global Markets: A Differential Approach for Services?," OECD Trade Policy Papers 165, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:traaab:165-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5jz17jtfkmzt-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Éltető, Andrea & Udvari, Beáta, 2018. "Nemzetköziesedés a válság után - a magyar kis- és középvállalatok exportjára ható tényezők [Internationalisation since the crisis - factors affecting exports by small and medium-sized Hungarian ent," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(4), pages 402-425.
    2. Sanna Joensuu-Salo & Kirsti Sorama & Anmari Viljamaa & Elina Varamäki, 2018. "Firm Performance among Internationalized SMEs: The Interplay of Market Orientation, Marketing Capability and Digitalization," Administrative Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(3), pages 1-13, July.
    3. Harald Oberhofer, 2014. "Die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit der österreichischen Exportwirtschaft: Die Rolle der KMUs," FIW Policy Brief series 025, FIW.
    4. Lucian, Cernat & Ana, Norman-López & Ana, Duch T-Figueras, 2014. "SMEs are more important than you think! Challenges and opportunities for EU exporting SMEs," DG TRADE Chief Economist Notes 2014-3, Directorate General for Trade, European Commission.
    5. Johannes Schwarzer, 2015. "Services Trade and Employment," Discussion Notes 1502, Council on Economic Policies.

    More about this item


    internationalisation; services; small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; trade; trade in services;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F68 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Policy
    • L8 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services

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