کارآفرینی و استراتژی در شرکتهای کوچک و متوسط بین المللی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of International Management, Volume 7, Issue 3, Autumn 2001, Pages 155–171
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have begun to play a critical role in international trade. Statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other sources indicate that SMEs now account for a very substantial proportion of exports from most industrialized nations. But very little is known about the effect of having an international entrepreneurial orientation, or the role of specific strategies associated with this construct, on the foreign performance of such firms. Using data from an empirical study of SMEs, we devise a structural model that reveals the role of international entrepreneurial orientation, key strategic activities, and the collective effect of these constructs on the international performance of the modern, international SME. These findings and their implications for scholars and managers are discussed.
International business has long been regarded as the domain of large, resource-rich companies (e.g., Johanson and Vahlne, 1990 and Root, 1994). However, recent evidence suggests that internationally active small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs; defined here as firms with 500 or fewer employees, a definition used widely in industrialized countries) are emerging in large numbers and presenting an important challenge to this traditional thinking (e.g., OECD, 1997, Rennie, 1993 and Rose and Quintanilla, 1996). With advances in information and communications technologies, the globalization of markets, and other facilitating trends, more SMEs are active in international markets than ever before Bell, 1995 and Craig and Douglas, 1996. In numerous countries, such firms are now the driving force for a substantial share of export growth and future economic prosperity Economist, 1993 and Gupta, 1989. In general, smaller firms are important. SMEs account for over 95% of businesses, create roughly 50% of total value added worldwide and, depending on the country, generate between 60% and 90% of all new jobs OECD, 1997 and United Nations., 1993. While they historically have not been associated with international business, based on an empirical study of trends in 18 industrialized countries, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) notes that SMEs now account for about a quarter of exports in most industrialized nations (OECD, 1997). Internationally-active SMEs are emerging in notably large numbers throughout the world, and they tend to be more dynamic and grow faster than strictly domestic firms Bell, 1995, Nakamura, 1992, OECD, 1997, Rennie, 1993 and United Nations., 1993. Since the 1970s, numerous key trends have made going international a more viable option for many such enterprises. To the extent they can be entrepreneurial engines for new technologies, product innovations, and the broader development of nations, the rise of the international SME is a key trend. However, smaller firms usually lack the resources, capabilities, and market power of traditional multinational enterprises (MNEs). Given their relatively low base of resources, compared to their larger rivals, the complexities of international operations tend to be considerably more challenging for the SME. We sought to investigate the international approaches of the modern SME through a two-stage research approach that involved, first, case studies to uncover key postures and strategies that give rise to international performance in new international ventures and, second, a survey-based study of international SMEs intended to confirm the validity of findings from the case studies. Our focus was the fundamentally important posture of entrepreneurship or, more precisely, entrepreneurial orientation, in the international success of the SME. Entrepreneurial orientation emphasizes innovation in the firm's offerings and processes, risk taking, and a generally proactive approach to business. When applied to international business, an organizational culture characterized by this construct is likely to engender the development and activation of key strategies that give rise to superior performance in foreign markets. Among the most important of these is strategic competence that provides the primary means through which the firm interacts with its external environment. The international environment entails a range of complexities related to differences in culture, political systems, and economics. Marketing skills and other key strategic approaches can allow the resource-constrained smaller firm to achieve superior performance results via manipulation of levers such as research and development, emphasis on quality, product adaptation, and effective distribution. Additional strategies investigated here include the acquisition of technology in order to support product development and adaptation, as well as general preparation to enter complex foreign markets. In the context of increasing smaller firm international involvement, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the above issues, particularly in light of the constructs highlighted above and their proposed contribution to international performance (e.g., market share and profitability), in the contemporary SME. In the following pages, we first summarize key theoretical perspectives and emerging trends that are improving the chances for successful SME pursuit of new international ventures. We then present the results of an empirical study on these issues and link them to international performance. Finally, we offer discussion on these findings in the context of their theoretical and practical implications.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
To assess the validity of the conceptual framework presented in Fig. 1, structural equations modeling was performed in LISREL 8. Goodness of fit statistics reveal the extent to which a given structural model is consistent with observed business behaviors. Results of LISREL modeling are presented in Fig. 2, which shows standardized coefficients and t values as indicants of the strength of relationships among constructs and the significance of these relationships. Accordingly, the linkage between technology acquisition and international performance is not significant. The linkage between strategic competence and international performance is significant at the .05 level. All other linkages are significant at the .01 level. As shown, the posited structural model achieved superior fit: χ2=1.94 with two degrees of freedom (P=.38), CFI=1.00, and NNFI=1.00.These findings imply that international entrepreneurial orientation is an important driver of several important parameters, key to the international performance of the firm. Among these are internationalization preparation, strategic competence, and technology acquisition. In addition, strong relationships were found linking international preparation and technology acquisition as strong antecedents to strategic competence. In turn, internationalization preparation and technology acquisition are important antecedents to international performance. No significant linkage was found between technology acquisition and international performance. One explanation may be that SMEs, under pressure from global competitors, may invest in activities and resources (including technology) intended to provide sustainable competitive advantage for the longer term. Several researchers (e.g., Grant and Jammine, 1988 and Porter, 1980) have suggested that, in the early stages of revising strategy in this way to cope with environmental pressures, performance may actually decline as the firm incurs the costs of revising its resource mix. More research is needed to address the technology–performance relationship. International entrepreneurial orientation resides at the cultural level of the firm insofar as it appears to drive key strategic initiatives intended to enhance organizational performance. Our findings reveal a strong linkage between international entrepreneurship and several strategic parameters. Accordingly, top managers should seek to develop an international entrepreneurial orientation and encourage it among midlevel managers throughout the firm. Concurrently, top management should exercise prudence in such endeavors because international entrepreneurial orientation can also stimulate expensive pioneering efforts, excessive risk taking, and “bold wide-ranging acts” that might ultimately harm the firm. Accordingly, international entrepreneurial orientation is potentially a strong organizational weapon that must be handled with care. The best managed firms will be those that strike some ideal balance in which an international entrepreneurial orientation is carefully cultivated so as to extract net positive benefits while avoiding the potential excesses that it can produce. In this study, the most salient aspect of international entrepreneurial orientation appears to be its highly significant association with the development and activation of strategic competence. Unique to the present work is the focus on the relatively resource-constrained SME operating in foreign markets. Such businesses typically lack the substantial asset base and market power of the large MNE and can thus ill afford to take too many missteps in their international ventures. Moreover, as foreign markets tend to be fraught with uncertainty and uncontrollables, the resource-limited SME is best advised to get close to consumers via judicious market research, R&D, product adaptation, skillful marketing activities, and the use of distribution channels that optimize interaction with the local environment. Such activities imply a need for the smaller firm to excel in strategic competence and a degree of internationalization preparation suitable for local conditions. This study implies that such behaviors can be stimulated in the wake of a strong international entrepreneurial orientation. Findings imply that international entrepreneurial orientation tends to promote the development of a strategic competence, as well as internationalization preparation and technology acquisition. These latter constructs occur at the strategy level of the firm (Webster, 1992) and are likely to be among the more important strategic mediators of international success in the SME, based on findings from both the case and survey-based studies presented here. International entrepreneurial orientation also indirectly enhances the overall international performance of the firm. These findings underscore the critical importance of having an international entrepreneurial orientation, particularly among SMEs that target foreign markets. Having such an orientation appears to give rise to proactive opportunity-seeking and problem-solving behavior. Entrepreneurial activity may further provide the means for extending the frontiers of corporate capabilities and keeping up with or surpassing competitors. It is likely that an entrepreneurial posture enables managers to be more responsive to changes in their external environment by encouraging strategic competence and the development or adaptation of products and services better suited to buyer needs. For most companies, because it tends to link the firm to buyers and the external environment, skillful strategic competence appears to be a critical ingredient for international success. Carefully executed marketing allows companies to follow the market and respond to it in ways that provide competitive advantages. Moreover, acquisition of technology through research and development allows firms to develop innovative products and services, thereby staying abreast of market demands and competitive threats. It can also promote, through the improvement of manufacturing processes, lower costs and enhanced productivity. Technology provides the means by which companies innovate and improve product quality, an important objective given the increasing sophistication of globally oriented consumers. Development of a strong strategic competence also will hinge on the acquisition of technology via research and development. R&D is critical to the pursuit of foreign markets because it facilitates greater understanding of buyers and the crafting or adaptation of products best suited to local buyer needs. This is evidenced in the present study by the strongly significant relationship between technology acquisition and strategic competence. Thus, while R&D may be costly and can, at least in the short term, decrease the profitability of foreign ventures, it is nonetheless indispensable to the extent it allows firms to address the specific needs of foreign buyers. Findings also imply that SMEs that prepare in advance to enter foreign markets tend to enjoy better performance. Internationalization preparation entails the conducting of market research, the commitment of resources to international operations, and the adaptation of products to suit conditions overseas. While international market research seldom guarantees correct decisions, it usually improves the firm's chances for success by a substantial degree. In foreign markets, blunders most often result from inadequate knowledge and are almost always more expensive than the research that would have prevented their occurrence. Market research is the most important basis for modifying products to meet the needs of foreign consumers. Product modifications of successful firms overseas are often relatively minor and may require little additional investment. Where research reveals that a product holds considerable potential in a given foreign market, it will probably have to be modified in some way, even if this applies only to packaging, product-use instructions, warranties, or other such attributes that may need to be translated into a foreign language. Internationalization preparation is also important because it implies that top management will assemble human, financial, and other resources sufficient to their international activities. Such specific resource allocations are important in light of the often highly specialized circumstances that confront the firm in foreign settings. Such conditions may require management to devise a distinctive mix of products, services, packaging, and other such elements tailored to local needs and tastes. Finally, as revealed here, internationalization preparation appears to support efforts aimed at achieving strategic competence and also has a highly significant direct effect on international performance. This study has several limitations that, when revealed, can help to improve future research. First, the study has considered only a limited number of factors that can likely influence performance outcomes in SME international ventures. As Yip (1992), Bartlett and Ghoshal (1989), and others have noted, international performance is the end result of a collection of activities in a complex value chain that involves more orientations and strategies than have been considered here. The present study is parsimonious and focuses on a limited range of value chain activities. Future research should consider a broader collection of orientations, strategies, and other value-creating activities in the SME's international value chain. Second, this research is a cross-sectional snapshot of company conditions. Such an approach may not capture all of the implications of a dynamic system over time. Future researchers might consider longitudinal approaches that are more effective for capturing specific cause-and-effect relationships. Finally, the present investigation was limited to a few industries. Future endeavors should consider firms in other sectors as a means of more broadly assessing the generalizability of these findings. It is useful to identify key research questions that were not addressed in the present work, in order to assist scholars with future research. First, in addition to the factors described above, it may be useful to investigate what other orientations and strategies can account for the international success of the modern, globalizing SME, particularly in light of the resource constraints that such firms typically face. Second, this study has emphasized R&D, product adaptation, and related factors in international SME success. Future research could address the specific role, at a more fine-grained level, of significant product/process innovations in facilitating superior foreign performance in the smaller firm. Relatedly, what is the effect of substantial internationalization on product design and R&D? Does it induce standardization of products and marketing? Or do firms that internationalize early tend to specialize in largely standardized goods with universal appeal? How do resource-poor SMEs reconcile the costly customized product needs of unique foreign markets and the need to achieve economies through product standardization, an approach such as by Yip (1992) and others? Third, in addition to entrepreneurship, what other types of organizational orientations are important strategic antecedents in the international performance of smaller firms? For example, what is the role of managerial vision, drive, commitment, and general international orientation in the foreign success of these firms? Finally, the present study emphasized manufacturing firms. Future researchers may wish to consider companies that specialize in services as well. For example, do international SMEs that specialize in services have unique characteristics and face unusual challenges? If so, what are they? Once the nature and success factors of successful international SMEs are largely understood, research should investigate public policy initiatives that can facilitate and promote the development and progress of this smaller breed of resource-constrained international enterprise.