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The Internationalization of Small and Medium-Sized Firms: The Role of Organizational Learning Effort and Entrepreneurial Orientation







This paper contributes to the existing research by integrating the notions of organizational learning and entrepreneurial orientation into the body of international entrepreneurship. Our primary framework combines learning theory and the new venture theory of internationalization to study the extent to which small and medium-sized companies engage in international activities. In order to focus on firms likely to engage in significant cross-border activity, we used a survey instrument to collect data from small and medium-sized firms located in Belgium. We found that the firms’ international learning effort and entrepreneurial orientation are positively associated with internationalization intent whereas domestic learning effort is negatively related with internationalization intent. Overall, our results suggest (1) that intensive knowledge renewal and exploitation regarding foreign markets and the internationalization process itself may increase internationalization by affecting the perceptions of opportunities offered by further international expansion, and (2) that firms with an entrepreneurial mindset may be more likely to develop a long-term, substantial presence in the international arena, compared to firms that are more reactive or conservative. However, our results also suggest that firms that invest in domestic learning activities, as opposed to international learning activities, may be less likely to internationalize further.

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  • D. De Clercq & H. J. Sapienza & H. Crijns, 2003. "The Internationalization of Small and Medium-Sized Firms: The Role of Organizational Learning Effort and Entrepreneurial Orientation," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 03/212, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  • Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:03/212

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel Sullivan, 1994. "Measuring the Degree of Internationalization of a Firm," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 25(2), pages 325-342, June.
    2. Danny Miller, 1983. "The Correlates of Entrepreneurship in Three Types of Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(7), pages 770-791, July.
    3. McDougall, Patricia P., 1989. "International versus domestic entrepreneurship: New venture strategic behavior and industry structure," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 4(6), pages 387-400, November.
    4. Crick, Dave & Chaudhry, Shiv & Batstone, Stephen, 2001. "An Investigation into the Overseas Expansion of Small Asian-Owned U.K. Firms," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 75-94, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paolo Seri & Tommaso Ciarli, 2014. "Regional structural change and small firms’ adaptabilities: Evidence from Italian firm-level data," Working Papers 1403, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2014.

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