بررسی پیکربندی بین المللی سازی شرکتهای کوچک و متوسط: دیدگاه خریداران اوراق
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|16961||2007||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Volume 13, Issue 2, March 2007, Pages 137–151
This article focuses on the international purchasing behavior of small- and medium-sized industrial firms in Denmark. Based on taxonomy of internationalization configurations defined by the import and the export share of firms, the article explores the differences in these configurations seen from a purchasing perspective. The taxonomy reveals four internationalization configurations: international sourcers, globals, locals, and international sellers. Based on the taxonomy, the researchers diagnose the differences between firms in each of the configurations and find that psychic distance, risk, and control are unimportant factors compared to conventional findings. On the other hand, close cooperation between the firm and the international partners is important when explaining differences in internationalization configurations. The paper concludes by recommending possibilities for future research and by advising managers as to increase their success.
While there has been extensive research in the last two decades on the internationalization process of small- and medium-sized firms, particularly through export, the connection to the very same firm's international sourcing activities has received only limited attention (Buckley and Ghauri, 1993; Welch and Luostarinen, 1993). This limited attention seems surprising for two main reasons: first, the ultimate success of exporters depends on the extent of foreign purchases and on the purchasing process itself. In fact, Biemans and Brand (1995) assert that buyer–seller relationships have changed considerably in recent years; from seller initiation to an increasingly active search process by the buyer (i.e. reverse marketing). Although not referring specifically to import behavior, Biemans and Brand (1995) point to four international trends that contribute to the increased strategic relevance of purchasing; reduction in the number of suppliers, up-scaling of demands on suppliers, increasing cooperation with suppliers, and decreasing time from producer to market. Second, international sourcing activities contribute significantly to firm performance and future competitiveness. International purchasing fosters competition among suppliers in the domestic market through imports of products and services even though these products and services may be available in the domestic market, but at less-favorable terms (Arnold, 1989). International purchasing also has a direct impact on the performance of the firm, in general, through improved quality, lower prices, and an increasing array of available products (Quintens et al., 2005 and Quintens et al., 2006a). The aim of this paper is to identify configurations of connections between import and export activities of firms and to analyze the distinguishing features of the resulting configurations. The key motivating factor for this paper is the lack of research on both international sourcing activities and, in particular, the interplay between firm's import and export activities. The need for this particular type of research increases once it is recognized, that import activities have an important impact on the likelihood and outcome of international export activities and the performance of the firm, in general. Unfortunately, research efforts have focused particularly on downstream activities like export behavior and, thereby, largely ignored the strategic importance of international sourcing activities (Liang and Parkhe, 1997). The article draws on a definition of importer behavior that explicitly includes the link between import and export: “the decision process by which formal organizations establish the need for imported products and services, identify and evaluate alternative global suppliers, select a supplier located in another country and manage the import–export relationship” (Liang and Parkhe, 1997, p. 498). Our view of international sourcing is also in accordance with Quintens et al. (2006b) definition of Global Purchasing being the activity of searching and obtaining goods, services and other resources on a worldwide scale, to comply with the needs of the company. Apparently, the lack of theory development disregards the need for an understanding of how firms set up their internationalization strategies with respect to both purchasing (import behavior) and sales (export behavior). This paper set out to expand on the literature by analyzing research question 1: What are the possible configurations of internationalization deriving from particular combinations of firm's import and export activities? The identification of possible combinations of import and export activities explicitly takes into account both international and domestic activities, and import and export activities. Knowing the combinations of activities, raises the question of what are the differences between, e.g. firms pursuing only domestic purchases and sales (i.e. no import and export activities) and firms that are highly internationalized. Hence, the paper contributes to the understanding of internationalization configurations when analyzing research question 2: What are the distinguishing features of firms with different internationalization configurations in terms of structural and behavioural aspects? The paper is primarily empirical in nature and focuses on exploring the above two research questions by using survey data on manufacturing SME's in Danish industry. The data used to analyze research question 1 are collected from the persons responsible for sales and purchasing, whereas the data used for analyzing research question 2 have been collected from those responsible for purchasing activities in the firms. Hence, the data used for analyzing the two research questions combine responses from the responsible persons in the companies. This has the advantage that the input into the analysis becomes more varied and also less subject to the criticism of a single respondent's subjectivity. Based on the identified differences, the authors aim at providing managers with recommendations for their future internationalization activities. The contribution of this paper extends the work by Arnold (1999) by clarifying some of his definitions and operationalization. Arnold (1999) identified four ideal organizational types for global sourcing within the organizational structure of a firm and its strategy. The presented analytical model was based on different dimensions. Internationalization was described by two properties: internationalization in general and internationalization of procurement. These two levels, the company as a whole and purchasing function, were examined concerning their degree of centralization in the organization. As a result, four organizational types were identified and each positioned in an internationalization and in a centralization matrix. Where Arnold (1999) dealt with internationalization of the firm in general, this paper relies on export activities in relation to total sales. With regards to procurement, this paper uses the firm's international purchasing expenditures in relation to the total purchasing budget. The authors, therefore argue, that compared to Arnolds paper, their measures are more precise as they explicitly include both sales and purchasing. Hence, the results should be directly applicable to the ongoing discussion in the wider literature on import and export behavior. In addition, the paper has a different aim than Arnold, since this article identifies the differences underlying the combinations of activities in terms of behavioral and structural variables, whereas Arnold analyzed the link between internationalization and organizational structure and strategy aiming at identifying an optimal degree of centralization. Another contribution of this paper is that most research on international purchasing has been concentrated largely on North American firms; especially MNC's from the United States (see Murray et al. (1995) for an overview). This article makes an additional contribution by focusing on small industrial firms operating in a small and “open” economy, and thereby responding positively to the call for further empirical research on SME's in non-US settings (Quintens et al., 2006b). The applied data follows the distinction by Liang and Parkhe (1997) of importers by dividing them into two groups: Producers, who import for their own operational needs and Imports Brokers, Trade Intermediates or Merchants, who resell the imported goods. The data also limits the research in the article to import of intermediate goods (components and parts) by manufacturing firms for their own operational needs. Another data limitation is that, even though the study categorizes both import and export activities, the configurations are studied from the perspective of the purchasing manager alone. Here, it would be relevant to include the perspective of the person responsible for sales as well. The paper proceeds by exploring the literature on the connections between import and export activities within industrial firms, especially focusing on existing typologies (Section 2). The literature survey continues by identifying a set of key variables that are used to analyze the differences between different combinations of import and export activities (Section 3). Section 4 presents the data and the applied method, and Section 5 explores the data and develops the internationalization taxonomy based on the identified variables in Section 3. The actual differences are studied in Section 6, and finally the conclusions are drawn and the managerial implications are discussed in Section 7.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The present article contributes to the literature on internationalization activities of industrial firms and in detail on the purchasing activities of these firms, by analyzing the differences between internationalization configurations derived from the imports and exports of SME's in Denmark. The first research question set out to identify the internationalization configurations and was addressed by using a clustering technique to obtain four different combinations of the extent of import and export activities of the firm. These four combinations were subsequently discussed in relation to the work on international new ventures, and especially to the typology proposed by Arnold (1999). The second question led to a test of the possible explanatory variables relating to structural and behavioral characteristics on the internationalization configurations. The motivation for this question was that if the differences could be established by either structural and/or behavioral variables, it would be possible to discuss in more detail why all firms are not either global or local. After identification, the internationalization configurations were labelled: Globals, International Sourcers, International Sellers, and Locals. These were analyzed based on the structural variables of size measured by number of employees and turnover and measured both the year before and 3 years after the decision to purchase were made. These results indicate that Globals represented the largest firms and Locals the smallest firms. This result was in accordance with the first proposition that small firms are less internationally orientated, and, therefore, that size is a distinguishing characteristic. But measured in turnover, Sourcers were larger than the firms in the other groups, and Sellers were the smallest firms. Turning to the behavioral variables, the literature indicates that internationalization experience is an important factor in the motivation of the firm to pursue an increased internationalization pace, irrespective of the inward or outward nature. Four indicators of experience were tested, namely: the year of establishment, the number of years of import and export experience, and the amount of years passed since the first export activities. The “Year of establishment” is linked to the ideas from the literature on Born Globals and International New Ventures in arguing that younger firms are more flexible and willing to pursue new ventures (Knight and Cavusgil, 2004) and also willing to change their internationalization configuration. Years of import experience was compared to the import side, which, in the case, of extensive experience ought to have led the firm towards becoming an International Sourcer or Global depending on the export share. Similarly, the third and fourth indicators were compared to the export side in using the respondent's and the firm's export experience. The number of years since the first export activities (firm level) was significant. The Post Hoc Tests revealed that Sourcers were significantly less experienced in exports than Globals, and the Sellers were significantly more experienced in exports than Sourcers, which supports the above expectation that experience drives export involvement. On the importer side, however, there were no significant differences between the International Sourcers and Locals. The results could, therefore, not completely support the second proposition. Two important explanations can be provided. First, export activities may be easier to initiate than import activities. Second, the measurement of experience may be too broad to actually capture the true content of experience. The article, therefore, suggest the study of this particular driver of internationalization as a topic for future research. Regarding the motives for internationalization, only the willingness to negotiate was significant and, therefore, supported the third proposition that motives are important in explaining the extent of internationalization. The willingness to negotiate was, however, a key motive since Sourcers and Globals relied on the import side concerning the deals they could make. A lack of importance in explaining the differences could also imply that the suggested motives were equally important for any kind of internationalization activities. Furthermore, perceived problems in the relationships was tested: where the single items were related to the cultural aspects of the relationship with a foreign supplier. The results of the cultural dimension were insignificant, both for the single items and for the composite construct. Combined with the negative results of control and risk, these results come out contrary to expectation according to the internationalization literature (Johanson and Vahlne, 1977, p. 1990) that argues for an increasing Psychic distance as a result of the perceived risk and the need for control. In the present study, it was expected that perceived cultural problems, risk and control were less important to Globals than to Locals. These expectations as suggested in proposition four, however, could not be verified in the empirical analysis. Moreover, in support of the network view of internationalization (Johanson and Mattsson, 1988), it was found that the characteristics of the supplier relationships were highly significant and helped to explain the differences in internationalization configurations. Proposition five stated that close and trustful relationships with suppliers are important for the extent of international business and this was supported in the empirical study. The results showed that close relationships are more important for Globals and Sourcers compared to Locals and Sellers, indicating that close relationships are more important when international purchasing is prevalent. Even if a number of the suggested variables did not contributing to the explanation of the differences in internationalization configurations, it is argued that internationalization of purchasing is a process that could be very different to that of the internationalization of export. The results indicated that Sourcers were significantly larger in size than Sellers. Furthermore, Sourcers required more trust and close relationships and more willingness to negotiate from their partners. Willingness to negotiate may, therefore, be seen as an early indicator for the quality of the particular relationship at a later stage in the process of cooperation. This result is not surprising since the buyer's dependency on the supplier is more important as it has direct implications for the quality and the production of the buyer's own product. Import activities, therefore, lead to a higher partner dependency. 7.1. Managerial challenges The implications for managers are clear. If the firm has a strong focus on imports, emphasis should be placed on developing and strengthening ties with suppliers, in particular, focusing on building up trust and developing the strength of the tie with the supplier. In contrast, focusing heavily on the export dimension should lead the managers to be willing to negotiate with the buyers and be open towards establishing close relationships. These implications must also be viewed in the light of the geographical scope. Most of these firms primarily carry out business within the European Union. The European market seems to be effective, and together with the readiness of the firms to overcome cultural problems, even quite small firms reap the benefits of finding new, more adequate suppliers in other countries. Being part of the EU, therefore, facilitates the internationalization of purchasing but does not prepare small industrial firms for the globalization of purchasing activities. Future studies, therefore, should focus on the global dimension as well as on the purchasing dimension. 7.2. Future research Fletcher (2001) stresses, that previous research into firms’ internationalization has viewed internationalization processes as being primarily export oriented. Although this is a phenomenon that extends to other activities, such as licensing and manufacture abroad, it is usually considered from an “outward” perspective. Fletcher argues that internationalization is no longer just an outward driven activity and that firms also become internationalized by performing import activities and activities in which “inward” and “outward” activities are “linked”. In line with these results, the researchers stress that further research is needed to establish whether these combinations of internationalization configurations are generic types or types related only to the Danish manufacturing industry. Other relevant questions include; are the identified configurations always distributed equally within different industries and different countries? In the present study it was found that the different groups were almost of similar size in terms of members, but is this a general finding? Concerning the single variables, the results only partly supported the stated propositions, as fewer variables than expected helped diagnose the differences in internationalization configurations. Further, research should, therefore, expand the present research and look for other variables that may explain the differences. These could well be found in the distinct literature on purchasing and exporting that are subsequently integrated in a joint theoretical framework. A further question to be explored is whether these findings can be replicated in the contexts of both large firms, and also large countries. Do firms in the US for instance rely on the same type of relationships and do cultural factors come into play or are they completely absent? Finally, perhaps the most intriguing question is whether these internationalization configurations are also related to firm performance. As argued by Sullivan (1994) the measures that were used to derive the taxonomy, were indicators of internationalization performance, but further research needs to analyze whether these combinations of import and export performance significantly increase or decrease firm performance.