تبدیل سرمایه اجتماعی به کسب و کار : یک مطالعه بین المللی از شرکتهای کوچک و متوسط (SMEs) فن آوری زیستی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4229||2011||19 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Business Review, Volume 20, Issue 2, April 2011, Pages 194–212
This study examines how individuals’ social capital and its dimensions affect biotech SMEs’ acquisition of foreign market knowledge and financial resources during their internationalization processes. To examine these processes, we conducted a longitudinal cross-case study of 14 Swedish biotech SMEs. The results show not only that all dimensions (structural, relational, and cognitive) of social capital affect the acquisition of foreign market knowledge and financial resources, but also that the usefulness of individuals’ social capital often changes during SMEs’ internationalization. Social capital use can contribute to a rapid internationalization; however, this may impede a firm's understanding of a foreign market. We thus find that those biotech SMEs that experienced an incremental internationalization process were the most successful.
During the past two decades, the number of studies focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in high-tech markets has rapidly grown (Crick and Jones, 2000 and Gassmann and Keupp, 2007). The focus has been on the accelerated internationalization of these firms and the challenges concerning resource access that are connected to early and rapid internationalization (McDougall, Shane, & Oviatt, 1994). An emphasis has been placed on the need for two critical resources in particular: foreign market knowledge (FMK), defined as experience gained from foreign market operations (Autio et al., 2000 and Sharma and Blomstermo, 2003), and financial resources (Bell, 1997 and Spence, 2003). To acquire these scarce resources, high-tech SMEs use their networks (Coviello, 2006 and Coviello and Munro, 1997), especially the personal networks of founders and managers (Crick and Spence, 2005, Liebeskind et al., 1996 and Moen et al., 2004). The use of personal networks for resource acquisition has been merged with the concept of social capital when investigating the internationalization processes of high-tech SMEs (Coviello and Cox, 2006 and Yli-Renko et al., 2001). We argue that high-tech firms’ social capital will affect their acquisition of FMK and financial resources during their internationalization. How this process occurs is unknown. As shown by Maurer and Ebers (2006) in a study of domestic biotech firms, the structural, relational, and cognitive dimensions of social capital can affect a firm's development. Yet, research on individuals’ social capital and its effects on high-tech firms’ internationalization either has focused on the process but not on the dimensions of social capital (Coviello & Cox, 2006), or has included the dimensions but focused only on the expansion at one point in time (Yli-Renko, Autio, & Tontti, 2002). Despite existing research, our knowledge of the effects of the dimensions of individuals’ social capital on high-tech firms’ continuous internationalization processes is limited. In agreement with Agndal, Chetty, & Wilson (2008), we argue that it is vital to include the dynamics of social capital so as to describe accurately the internationalization processes of high-tech firms. Studies have recently highlighted the importance of not only examining the initial stage of expansion of these firms but also following them during their internationalization processes (Schwens and Kabst, 2010 and Zou and Ghauri, 2010). Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to investigate how individuals’ social capital and its dimensions affect biotech SMEs’ acquisition of FMK and financial resources during their internationalization processes. We perform a longitudinal case study to investigate the social capital that is available and used by 14 biotech SMEs and how it affects both the initial and continued internationalization of these firms. Our study contributes to the knowledge of high-tech SMEs’ internationalization by investigating the internationalization processes themselves, as the firms expand into foreign markets. We also contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of social capital by showing its evolution and continuous effect on the acquisition of FMK and financial resources. Our study describes an internationalization process that more accurately captures the internationalization of high-tech SMEs. Conversely, by conducting a case study, we limit the generalizability of our results.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
5.1. Initial internationalization It is evident in all 14 cases that the structural social capital of the individuals is the foundation for acquiring FMK and financial resources, thus supporting our proposed effect of structural social capital on resource acquisition. However, depending on who is included in the network, the structural dimension can have either a positive or negative effect on FMK acquisition. Our study shows that a lack of industrial connections hinders a firm's acquisition of FMK. This finding is typical for two of the academic firms (companies 1 and 2) and all of the metamorphic firms. Because the structural dimension of the individuals in the industrial firms contains relationships with business people who have experience in foreign operations, the acquisition of FMK by these firms is ensured. The structural social capital has a positive effect on financial resource acquisition for all firms; hence, an academic network is not a liability when the companies are founded. However, when financial resources are needed for development and international expansion, the structural social capital is not sufficient. Without cognitive and relational social capital (including industrial counterparts), the acquisition of financial resources is limited. The management teams of the academic and metamorphic firms cannot understand the venture capitalists, and vice versa, thus offering limited trust and social interaction and hampering the possibilities for financial resources. A shared working background, frame of mind, experience, trust, and social interaction with financiers all contribute to the straightforward acquisition of FMK and financial resources by industrial firms. Thus, our proposed effect of the relational and cognitive dimensions of the individuals’ social capital on the acquisition of FMK and financial resources is supported. Although our main argument is supported, we find that the effects of the individuals’ social capital on the acquisition of FMK and financial resources differ among the groups of firms and that these differences influence their international development. The industrial firms grow and internationalize faster with a clear strategy (see Table 2 and Table 5), whereas the missing cognitive and relational dimensions of the social capital of the academic and metamorphic firms slow down their international expansion (see Table 3 and Table 4). 5.2. Continued internationalization A general analysis of all of the 14 firms’ internationalization, shows that the wider the structural social capital of the individuals, the more trust and social interaction the relational social capital holds, and the more common background and frame of mind the cognitive social capital entails, the more financial resources and FMK the firms will acquire. As shown in Table 2, Table 3, Table 4 and Table 5, firms with such ideal social capital have a higher level of commitment to foreign markets and a higher export share of turnover, thus exhibiting a higher degree of internationalization (companies 6, 13, and 14). By contrast, Presutti et al. (2007) found that only the structural dimension of social capital is positively related to knowledge acquisition for international firms. We believe that our results depend on the longitudinal method used. Because we followed the firms’ internationalization and learning processes, we obtained a more comprehensive picture. Our study also differentiates among academic, metamorphic, and industrial firms. If only one type of firm were studied, the importance of the cognitive and relational dimensions of social capital might be decreased. However, in the dynamic, rapidly changing markets in which biotech SMEs operate, there are challenges connected to the usefulness of individuals’ social capital. As evident in all the cases presented in this study, the companies exploit their social capital as they develop business activities in international markets. If the existing social capital of the individuals does not provide sufficient FMK and financial resources for internationalization, new social capital is needed. Our cases show that depending on the firms’ ability to change existing social capital and find new, more useful social capital, their internationalization either proceeds or does not. The existing social capital guides as well as restricts the firm's behavior. It has taken a lot of effort to develop and is thus the main obstacle in this process, because relationships, trustworthiness and mind frames are not easy to break. Our study also shows that the different dimensions of social capital are closely intertwined and that all dimensions are needed to acquire FMK and financial resources. For instance, a widening of the structural dimension is not enough. Two of the academic firms (companies 1 and 2) widened the structural social capital to include industrial counterparts but could not expand the relational and cognitive dimensions in relation to them. The companies were then left with limited FMK and financial resources (see Table 3), which in turn hampered their internationalization. The companies were locked into their existing cognitive and relational social capital. Company 1 went bankrupt in 2006, and company 2 is still struggling. Structure provides access to FMK and financial resources; however, trust and a common understanding need to be developed before the new social capital becomes useful. The metamorphic firms in the study (companies 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8) were characterized as having more developed structural, relational, and cognitive social capital dimensions because they were able to expand the existing social capital in all dimensions. To complement the employees’ academic networks, CEOs and management teams with international business experience were grafted. This action developed the social capital toward industrial actors (see Table 4), thus increasing their FMK and financial resources. When this social capital could not provide adequate resources, and the different cognitive schemes of researchers and new management collided, companies 4, 5, and 8 searched for new social capital through larger international partners. Company 7 went bankrupt in 2003. A majority of the industrial firms also grafted new management in search for more useful social capital. One conclusion of this study is that the usefulness of social capital and the social capital itself often change during the internationalization processes of firms. Our results contribute to the field by showing that the concept of social capital can provide new insights into the internationalization process of high-tech SMEs. However, in order to do so, we also show that social capital cannot be viewed as a static form of capital that always positively affects the international expansion of biotech firms. 5.3. Pace and knowledge acquisition Our study offers an interesting contribution to the discussion concerning the accelerated internationalization of high-tech SMEs. We find that biotech SMEs’ use of individuals’ social capital can contribute to a rapid internationalization, which supports prior research findings (Rialp et al., 2005). This is particularly evident among four of the industrial firms (companies 9, 10, 11, and 12). The acquisition of FMK and large amounts of venture capital through all dimensions of the individuals’ social capital during the firms’ initial internationalization enabled early and rapid expansion into several foreign markets. These firms proactively searched for opportunities in foreign markets early in their development and quickly increased their commitment to foreign markets. These four industrial firms are, in other words, examples of biotech SMEs that follow an accelerated internationalization process. Our results also indicate that the accelerated internationalization processes experienced by these four industrial firms were not necessarily the most successful in the long run. Between 2003 and 2005, companies 10 and 12 experienced an international contraction as export shares became reduced. Companies 9 and 11 misjudged their opportunities in foreign markets and had to make major changes to their businesses, markets, and product ranges. Their continued international expansion is related to these changes. All four firms also need to increase their FMK to ensure continued internationalization. By contrast, companies 13 and 14, the other two industrial firms, acquired the necessary FMK and financial resources to continue internationalization and generated profits in 2003 and 2005. These firms did not use grafting as a means of acquiring FMK, and their financial resources came from the sales of the firms’ own products and not from venture capital. Furthermore, they started selling their products in foreign markets later in the firms’ development (see Table 1, Table 2 and Table 5), thus incrementally increasing their international involvement at a pace that their own sales allowed. Accordingly, companies 13 and 14, with their incremental internationalization and acquisition of FMK, exhibited the most successful internationalization, as evidenced by increasing turnover, same or higher export shares, and higher profits. The metamorphic firms did not use high commitment modes but had high export shares early (see Table 1, Table 2 and Table 4). When the initial internationalization strategies failed, four of the industrial and all of the metamorphic firms grafted new management teams and/or CEOs to rectify the problems. However, most of the firms’ internationalization processes remained unsuccessful. We argue that the rapid internationalization hampered the possibilities of making cause and effect analyses about what was incorrect (Huber, 1991 and Johanson and Vahlne, 1977) and was thus an impediment to the acquisition of useful FMK by these firms (Autio et al., 2000 and Sharma and Blomstermo, 2003). By grafting and acquiring new FMK, these firms neglected to learn from failed internationalization strategies and operations when social capital was changed. The constant change of management was an impediment to the firms’ international development because it hindered experiential learning about the foreign markets. The grafted individuals had experience in managing successful – albeit often larger – international enterprises. However, the resources that accompanied their social capital were not sufficiently useful, and the firms had to change their approach once again. This finding suggests that these individuals’ FMK might not be useful for the resource-constrained SMEs. Instead, our study indicates the necessity of integrating grafted individuals’ social capital with the biotech firm's own social capital for the FMK of the grafted individuals to become useful. In our cases, there were many examples (companies 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8) of missing cognitive social capital between academics and business people and of different views on how business should be conducted (e.g., some views were rooted in old cognitive schemes). One metamorphic firm, company 6, was able to bridge the gap. The development of a common strategy for international expansion promoted the integration of the new CEO's social capital and FMK with the firm's. Our findings contribute to knowledge on the internationalization of high-tech SMEs, and of biotech firms specifically, by developing the findings of Eriksson et al. (1997), which stated that FMK consists of both market-specific knowledge and internationalization knowledge. Unlike internationalization knowledge, market-specific knowledge cannot be transferred between different markets and is acquired by operations in a firm's network. The development of social capital – in relation to the specific, and often rapidly changing, market conditions in which biotech SMEs operate – is indispensable for the acquisition of much needed resources. To yield results, grafted individuals’ social capital and more general internationalization knowledge need to be adapted to and incorporated into biotech SMEs’ social capital and its dimensions, their resources, and their networks of specific customers and partners in international markets. A major result of our research is that to become successful, biotech SMEs and their management teams need to understand that the acquisition of useful FMK and financial resources depends on their social capital and that this needs to be tailored to the firms’ current situation.