حالت تصمیم گیری، اطلاعات و پیوستگی شبکه در بین المللی شدن شرکتهای کوچک و متوسط:یک پیکربندی و تجزیه و تحلیل احتمالی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|21412||2014||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of World Business, Available online 6 January 2014
There has been limited attention to the internationalization of SMEs as a decision, and how the use of contrasting decision modes is associated with different information use and patterns of network attachment. This paper offers a new and systematic analysis of the likely associations between decision modes, information use, and network attachment among internationalizing SMEs. The analysis is subsequently contextualized in terms of two contingencies – the knowledge domain of the SME and the international experience of its key decision-maker. By focusing on the relation between a relatively neglected subject – decision modes – and other issues that have been more center-field, the paper contributes to an analytic synthesis in the field of SME internationalization research.
The internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), namely their expansion into foreign markets, has attracted growing attention as a subject of academic inquiry and a goal of public policy. However, while there is now a voluminous literature on the subject (see reviews by Harris and Li, 2005 and Jones et al., 2011), there has been only limited analysis of how SMEs decide to internationalize or to extend their internationalization (Schweizer, 2012). To some degree this reflects a neglect of managerial decision-making in international business research as a whole (Aharoni, Tihanyi, & Connelly, 2011). However, as with other aspects of SME internationalization, there is reason to expect that the approach to decision-making found in SMEs may differ from the goal-driven, planned and ‘rational’ decision-making commonly associated with large firms (Wilson & Nutt, 2010). One factor relevant to this difference is the greater information scarcity that SMEs tend to face in the course of internationalization (Buckley, 1989). Another is that SMEs tend to be characterized by an individualized leadership (Oviatt & McDougall, 1994). The significant role played by individual decision-makers in SMEs means that their personal characteristics and interpretations are highly likely to affect their strategic decisions, including those on internationalization (Hsu et al., 2013, Nielsen and Nielsen, 2011 and Nordman and Melén, 2008). The combination of individualized leadership with informational constraints suggests that SME decisions may tend to be based on personal hunch and be a response to unplanned developments to a greater extent than those made in multinational enterprises (MNEs), despite the growing recognition that intuition can inform the strategic decision making of larger firms as well (Elbanna, 2006). The scarcity of information, and other resources, frequently confronting SMEs may also mean that their internationalization decisions reflect resource availability rather than a ‘rational’ pursuit of clear goals (Evers & O’Gorman, 2011). It has been found that SMEs often make use of networks to reduce information asymmetry by accessing and acquiring information relevant to their international growth (Andersen, 2006, Ellis, 2011, Lu and Beamish, 2001, Manolova et al., 2010, Ojala, 2009, Yli-Renko et al., 2002 and Zhou et al., 2007), and that this is likely to be particularly true of rapidly internationalizing new ventures (Coviello, 2006). Johanson and Vahlne (2009) argue that ‘insidership’ in relevant networks is a prerequisite for successful internationalization. However, there has been little attention to how networking, and the information it may provide, may be associated with how SME leaders decide on initiating and implementing internationalization. The contribution of this paper is to develop a systematic analysis of the likely configurations between SME decision making on internationalization, information use and network links, and to explore contingent factors that influence such configurations. Its underlying theoretical rationale is based on a resource-oriented perspective, treating information as a key resource for decisions on SME internationalization. Given the lack of organizational slack typical of SMEs, a liability of foreignness is likely to present a significant risk if they internationalize. Although this challenge may be moderated if the SMEs enjoy certain advantages such as previous relevant experience, established connections with foreign customers, or a product that can be distributed at low cost and risk (e.g. through the internet), they still require information to inform a decision to diversify abroad and/or assurances of external support. They are likely to look to network links for such information, albeit that the nature of the information obtained will vary. Decision-making, information use and network attachment are therefore postulated to be inter-related. On the one hand, information availability and network attachment have implications for the type of decision mode that it is feasible to pursue. On the other hand, a preference for a given type of decision mode has implications for the information and network attachments that are sought. In the analysis to follow, we define ‘decision mode’ as the method and logic that SME leaders employ to go about reaching a decision to internationalize, either initially or to expand the scope of their existing international business. The term ‘mode’ is intended to be more comprehensive than ‘style’ in that style carries connotations that are primarily personal and personality-linked, whereas mode also implies consideration of the method adopted. We define information as data that are structured and understood in a way so as to become a useful input into knowledge. We use the term ‘network attachment’ to refer to the set of social and business links or ‘ties’ that the key SME actors access, connect and orchestrate in relation to their perceived needs associated with internationalization. In referring to the links that an SME establishes to networks, ‘network attachment’ has a somewhat more focused meaning than ‘networking’. This paper has been motivated by the gaps in our understanding of SME decisions on internationalization and by an expectation that in addressing them the analysis required for SMEs will differ from that appropriate to MNEs. This analysis will be sensitive to the presence of distinct types of SME and certain decision-maker attributes which, it will be argued, constitute significant contingencies. It adopts a ‘model-theoretic’ perspective (Harris, Johnson, & Souder, 2013) which aims to develop models representing specific aspects of the real world and to offer a reference both for systematic empirical investigation and for managerial practice. By addressing the relation between a relatively neglected subject – decision modes – and other issues that have been more center-field, we hope to contribute toward the analytic synthesis that has been called for (Jones et al., 2011). In order to pursue this aim, we address four related questions. The first concerns the ‘decision mode’ that SME leaders adopt. Here the analytical task is to make clear distinctions between different decision modes in order to identify a range of possibilities. Our second question is how contrasting decision modes are associated with variations in information use, as well as with ties to external networks. Any decision requires an input of information, if only to trigger it, and this input has a source or sources from which it flows to the decision maker through either personal or impersonal network channels. Insofar as decision modes contrast in features such as level of prior planning and comparison of alternatives, it is likely that they involve corresponding variations both in the information used and in the attachments to networks that provide it. The nexus between decision mode, information and network attachment appears not to have been previously articulated by scholars. The premise that decision modes, information use and network attachment are linked leads to the third question, namely whether the links between them form identifiable configurations. The systemic and holistic character of a configurational perspective (Academy of Management, 1993, Fiss, 2007 and Miller, 1996) encourages the search for distinct SME profiles with respect to the internationalization process such as Raymond and St-Pierre (2013) found when examining strategic capability configurations. The presence of different configurations associated with decision-making would be consistent with the recognition that there is considerable heterogeneity among internationalizing SMEs (Aspelund & Moen, 2005). The possibility of heterogeneity raises our fourth question: do certain contingencies tend to differentiate between decision-information-network configurations among internationalizing SMEs? The attention-based view of the firm would suggest that the specific situation of SME decision-makers will influence the range of factors they take into account and hence dispose them toward adopting a particular decision mode (Ocasio, 1997). Previous research suggests that the approach adopted by SME leaders toward internationalization and their network ties may depend on a number of factors, including firm characteristics, such as size, age, human and financial resources, their links with sources of technology/scientific knowledge, their prior international experience and knowledge, and the extent of their pre-existing contact networks – see Jones et al. (2011). The knowledge-based view of the firm (Grant, 1996), which has received increasing attention in internationalization research during the past decade (Autio et al., 2000, Casillas et al., 2009, Gassmann and Keupp, 2007, Musteen et al., 2010 and Yli-Renko et al., 2002), implies that two situational factors will be particularly significant. One is the knowledge domain from which their outputs and processes are derived (Bell, McNaughton, Young, & Crick, 2003). Another is the international experience that the firm, particularly its key decision-maker, has accrued (Clarke, Tamaschke, & Liesch, 2013). To address the above questions, we proceed as follows. We first identify four decision-making modes that SMEs may pursue. We then discuss how each mode implies a different character of information used and pattern of attachment to networks. This is followed by an analysis of how configurations of decision mode, information use, and network attachment vary according to the knowledge domain of an SME and the international experience of its key decision maker(s). Because our aim is to develop a theoretical perspective rather than to test one, our ‘methodology’ uses two categories of resource. The first category is available conceptual frameworks for analyzing the three main components of our analysis: decision modes, information use and network attachment. The second resource is empirical case study evidence which is used both to suggest correspondence between the analytical components and to provide clarifying illustrations of our argument.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
5.1. Contributions The aim of this paper has been to analyze the conditions under which SME leaders are likely to employ particular decision modes and to display an associated pattern of information use and network attachment. It has put forward a classification of four decision modes (namely reactivity, incrementalism, bounded rationality and real options reasoning) that fall along a continuum from being less rational to highly rational. It has also addressed the need for greater specificity in commonly used terms by proposing a precise conceptualization both of information and network attachment. Our analysis contributes to existing knowledge in several ways. First, it extends the platform for research on strategic decision-making in internationalizing SMEs. This paper responds to the call for research to explore configurational approaches to decision-making in SMEs (Jansen et al., 2013). It pioneers a systematic analysis of how the interrelationships between network attachment, information use, and decision mode will vary both with the type of SME categorized according to knowledge domain and with the international experience of its key decision-makers. In so doing, it goes further than most analyses of SME networking by articulating along several dimensions how different SMEs are likely to vary in their network attachment in the course of internationalization. We also advance the work of Bell et al., 2003 and Bell et al., 2004 by developing a synthesis that is based upon the cognitive approach employed by SME decision makers in terms of how they use information and access networks in the course of planning and implementing internationalization. Second, we have analyzed a firm-level and an individual-level contingency, both of which potentially shape SME decision modes – the knowledge domain of SMEs and the experience of their leaders. By explaining how differences in firms’ knowledge domains and unique experiential knowledge impact on their decision-making, we contribute to closing a gap in resource-based theorizing on international entrepreneurship (Terjesen, Hessels, & Li, 2013). Taking this further and investigating how firm and individual factors interact in the evolution of SME internationalization offers a promising path for future SME research. A specific example concerns the potential relevance of decision makers’ education for SME decision modes and how it may interact with firm characteristics. Existing evidence (e.g. Groves et al., 2011 and Papadakis et al., 1998) suggests that years of formal education are linked to entrepreneurs’ cognitive styles (intuitive vs. analytical and rational), which in turn affect an SME's strategic decision-making practices. Papadakis et al. (1998) found that highly educated CEOs tend to demand more detailed information and analyses, leading to comprehensive decision-making processes. Knowledge-based SMEs are often established by scientists who had years of training in scientific methods and may be more likely to possess stronger analytical and rational thinking. By contrast, the founders of traditional SMEs may well tend to have fewer years of formal education and may for that reason be inclined to use more intuitive or non-linear thinking (i.e. varying case by case) in decision-making. These distinctions imply that decision-makers’ learning and thinking styles tend to vary both with their experience and the type of SME. In general, there has been a lack of systematic cross-level analysis of this kind concerning decisions on SME internationalization. Third, a contingency analysis of SME decision-making on internationalization reflects the overarching premise of an attention-based view of firm, which postulates that the decisions made by managers are based on ‘the particular context or situation they find themselves in’ (Ocasio, 1997, p. 188). However, despite the contingency element in our analysis, its focus on decision-making also serves to emphasize the exercise of strategic choice. Past research has tended to neglect the relevance of entrepreneurial strategic choice (Autio et al., 2000) and the fact that decision-makers can exercise some choice about how they decide on internationalization, what information they attend to, and the network ties they foster (Tang, 2011). Our analysis is consistent with a recognition that SME decision makers can choose between less rational and more rational modes, and to move away from a particular internationalization pattern by reconfiguring their networking activities. A shift from being reactive and inertial toward more actively seeking information through a wider range of network ties is a strategic choice which may well be informed by learning through experience. The leaders of SMEs play an important role in creating the conditions for learning and enhancing ‘dynamic capabilities’ for their organizations (Zahra, Sapienza, & Davidsson, 2006) through their social and business networking activities (De Clercq, Sapienza, Yavuz, & Zhou, 2012). However, such learning depends on the approach taken by decision makers to elicit and process relevant knowledge, and their ability to change their mindset or convert the experience of specific internationalization to general knowledge that is more applicable in the light of new foreign market situations. These considerations are compatible with an attention-based view to understanding the internationalization of SMEs, which would suggest that their leaders’ choice of decision mode and attention to information will be influenced by their situation in terms of factors such as those we have identified, namely international experience and exposure to network relationships (Fernhaber & Li, 2013). 5.2. Limitations and avenues for further inquiry There are inevitably limits to the analysis we have developed. One limitation is that it addresses broad parameters of SME internationalization decision-making rather than entering into the realm of decision process. The possibility we have raised, that international experience interacts with knowledge domain to sustain an evolutionary development of decision-making mode over time, draws attention to process and will require a longitudinal research design to verify. A virtue of Sarasvathy's analysis is that it takes account of process. Moreover, despite the considerable difference in context, studies of decision-making processes in larger firms may provide inspiration for both methodological and conceptual progress in future investigation of SME decision-making processes (cf. Cohen et al., 1972, Mintzberg et al., 1976 and Nutt, 2010). Secondly, future research could take account of a wider range of contingent factors. By constructing relatively large samples of SMEs, it could endeavor through multivariate analysis to identify their relative impacts on configurations of decision mode, information use and network attachment. In addition to the potential relevance of knowledge domain and international experience that we have identified, other candidates would include ownership and degree of product standardization. Thus the conservatism, risk-aversion and inherited social networks associated with family-owned firms may encourage their decision-makers to adopt a reactive mode of decision-making on internationalization (Fernández & Nieto, 2006). The production of non-standardized outputs can complicate their sale and distribution to foreign markets in ways that may render the use of rational comparison and reasoning in decision-making about international expansion more difficult (Child & Rodrigues, 2008). A third limitation is that we have not addressed the issue of power, especially in regard to dependency on external network links and their resource provision. This factor is likely to prove relevant for both the decision mode and network ties of an SME (Child & Rodrigues, 2011). For example, dependence on venture capital funding could place SME owner-managers under pressure to adopt a more rational decision-making mode aimed at maximizing return through comparing alternatives and calculating costs and benefits. External dependency as a contingency could therefore provide another avenue deserving further research.