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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Business Review, Available online 16 March 2013
We link research in international entrepreneurship and on behavioral decision making with the international business literature on firm degree of internationalization to advance an integrative model of new venture post-entry international growth. We test this model on a sample of 286 new ventures. Results demonstrate that the extent to which entrepreneurs perceive internationalization choices more or less risky than an objective standard (i.e. internationalization risk bias) leads to variations in international growth rates, in particular international scope. Further, we show that the decision-maker's motivation leads to differences in both internationalization risk bias and international scope.
Why do some new ventures internationalize more aggressively (i.e. in multiple markets and/or derive significant revenue from international markets) than others? Internationalization is one of the most important events in a firm's existence that poses risks and threats that are different from those that the firm faces domestically (Lu and Beamish, 2001 and Oviatt and McDougall, 2005) and may lead to significant firm inefficiencies and even failure (Sapienza, Autio, George, & Zahra, 2006). Conversely, internationalization may also lead to growth, organizational learning, and innovation (Barkema and Vermeulen, 1997 and Sapienza et al., 2006). Despite a growing body of research on the determinants and the process that lead to early entry into international markets, there is limited empirical research on what determines new ventures’ post-entry growth ( Autio et al., 2000 and Prashantham and Young, 2011). Early internationalization is a first step toward greater international growth (Sapienza et al., 2006). However, the transition from early internationalization to international market diversity and sales intensity requires significantly more time, resources, and commitment than the initial entry ( Prashantham and Young, 2011 and Preece et al., 1999). Yet, our understanding about the various anteceding mechanisms of post-entry internationalization action has remained purely at the conceptual level ( Oviatt and McDougall, 2005 and Prashantham and Young, 2011). The distribution of potentially negative or positive consequences of internationalization suggests that internationalization is not only an important action for new ventures, but that it takes place “under conditions of high situational uncertainty (Autio, George, & Alexy, 2011: 13).” Scholars in both international business and entrepreneurship have called for more research that explains variation in the levels of aggressiveness with which firms internationalize (Hennart, 2007, Kirca et al., 2012 and Oviatt and McDougall, 2005). However, research rooted in the two disciplines has evolved independently. International business scholars have linked firm and industry related variables directly to internationalization outcomes and have focused more on the ‘objective’ internationalization risks as reflected in the use of country risk indicators that capture political, institutional or economic risks and are generated through surveys of experts and governmental bodies (Oetzel, Bettis, & Zenner, 2001). In contrast, research rooted in international entrepreneurship often emphasizes factors related to the entrepreneur (i.e. a founder and key decision maker) and uses ‘subjective’ internationalization risks by focusing on the entrepreneur's risk perception as a filter to explain internationalization actions (Acedo and Jones, 2007, Oviatt and McDougall, 2005 and Preece et al., 1999). Furthermore, works grounded in internationalization process theories, often contain a built-in assumption of managers as risk avoiders who take sequential steps toward reducing international risk, while in the international entrepreneurship literature, the entrepreneur is often portrayed as a risk taker that pursues bold internationalization trajectories (c.f. Liesch, Welch, & Buckley, 2011). Because research rooted in each of these literatures focuses on different conceptualizations of risk, we lack an integrated explanation for variations in the aggressiveness with which new ventures internationalize and the antecedents that drive the differences between objective and subjective internationalization risks. In this paper, we address weaknesses in prior research on new venture internationalization by advancing an integrative model of post-entry international growth. First, we argue that the difference between objective risk and subjective risk represents an entrepreneur's internationalization risk bias that influences the aggressiveness of post-entry international growth, conceptualized as both growth in the number of countries pursued and the amount of sales generated from these countries. Second, we advance that, consistent with the international business literature on firm degree of internationalization, an entrepreneur's internationalization motivation directly influences post-entry international growth. We then build on behavioral decision-making theory and suggest that the entrepreneur's internationalization motivation is an important mechanism that influences the magnitude of the internationalization risk bias. Finally, we argue that internationalization risk bias is a mediator of the relationship between internationalization motivation and post-entry internationalization. To build our model, we integrate theory from entrepreneurship and international business and answer recent calls in international business (Hennart, 2007, Kirca et al., 2012 and Li, 2007) and international entrepreneurship (Jones et al., 2011, Oviatt and McDougall, 2005 and Zahra et al., 2005) for a better understanding of the drivers of a firm's level of internationalization and a better integration of international business- and entrepreneurship-based explanations. Although firm- and industry-level factors that affect internationalization decisions and their consequences have drawn a considerable amount of attention, the role that cognitive factors play in internationalization has received relatively less attention (Acedo and Jones, 2007 and Coviello and Jones, 2004). Recent work in international entrepreneurship (e.g. Autio, 2005, Jones et al., 2011, Kiss et al., 2012 and Oviatt and McDougall, 2005) points to a need to emphasize the entrepreneur and his perceptions when studying internationalization decisions. We test our ideas on a sample of 286 new ventures, operating in various industries, which have internationalized early in their existence. Our approach and results contribute to prior research in international entrepreneurship and the broader literature on firm degree of internationalization in several important ways. First, our study offers an integrative, cognitively anchored explanation for firm post-entry internationalization behaviors that goes beyond firm and industry related explanations. Second, by conceptualizing internationalization risk bias as the difference between subjective risk and objective risk, we move away from prior conceptualizations in international business and entrepreneurship research of managers and/or entrepreneurs as purely risk avoiders or risk seekers that may have led to inconsistent explanations related to new venture internationalization actions and their outcomes (c.f. Liesch et al., 2011). Third, we answer calls in the literature (e.g. Zahra et al., 2005) and provide empirical evidence to suggest that entrepreneurial motivation is an essential mechanism, with both direct and indirect effects, that explains post-entry international expansion. Finally, our differential results for the two components used to capture post-entry international growth highlight the importance of using multiple measures to assess the complex nature of internationalization outcomes and signal the need for theoretically driven approaches to matching cognitive variables with internationalization actions and outcomes.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our primary motivation for engaging in this study is to provide a better understanding of internationalization decisions that have critical implications for new venture growth and survival (Coviello and McAuley, 1999 and Jones et al., 2011). We build on prior literature in entrepreneurship and international business, and advance a cognitive model of the role of internationalization risk bias and motivation on post-entry international growth. We find support for our main theoretical argument that entrepreneurs’ international expansion actions are strongly driven by internationalization risk bias and motivation. Prior research highlights the important role that internationalization motivation plays for the amounts of risk that entrepreneurs perceive and their subsequent internationalization activities. Yet, a limited number of empirical studies link cognitive antecedents to entrepreneurs’ evaluations, exploration and exploitation of internationalization opportunities. We focus on two dimensions of internationalization activity – post-entry international scope and international intensity – with particular implications for new ventures due to the significant resource and managerial commitments associated with them and the variance introduced in firm outcomes. We show that proactive motivations have a direct and positive effect on the number of countries entered. This suggests that the extent to which entrepreneurs perceive foreign markets as opportunities increases the magnitude of their internationalization efforts and fosters an opportunity-seeking mindset that promotes international expansion. In contrast, proactive motivations do not directly impact new venture international intensity. This result suggests that motivation may play a secondary role in the depth of exploiting international opportunities and that different firm or industry-level antecedents or conditions may drive the depth of opportunity exploitation. Our results suggest that, consistent with prior research (e.g. Kirca et al., 2012), firm age and firm international experience may be more important when explaining international intensity while managerial and/or entrepreneur-related factors may be more important for explaining internationalization scope. An alternate explanation is that decision-makers select opportunities that are not large, relative to their home market, thus entrepreneurs may explore a number of internationalization opportunities but not derive a significant amount of revenue (compared to their total revenue) from these opportunities (Andersson, 2004). We also show that internationalization motivations influence the amount of risk perceived by entrepreneurs about specific opportunities. Robustness checks using different risk measures (objective risk and perceived risk) or controlling for alternative risk measures demonstrate that this effect of internationalization motivation is most pronounced on the entrepreneurs’ internationalization risk bias. As such, we empirically demonstrate how motivation influences and alters entrepreneurs’ perceptions of opportunity-specific characteristics. Finally, we show that internationalization risk bias affects internationalization scope but not internationalization intensity. Risk bias also partially mediates the relationship between internationalization motivations and internationalization scope. These results illustrate the critical role of entrepreneurial actor perceptions to understanding how and why entrepreneurs take specific actions, including internationalization (Oviatt and McDougall, 2005 and Simon et al., 2000). Our findings are important for both the international entrepreneurship and international business literatures because they explicitly show that firms differ in the degree to which they internationalize not only because they have different resource and industry profiles, but also because they have different internationalization motivations and risk perceptions. As such, our study offers a cognitive perspective as an alternative and complementary explanation to firm and industry explanations for post-entry internationalization behavior. Furthermore, our study suggests that one of the mechanisms through which internationalization motivation affects international scope is risk bias. The approach taken to conceptualize internationalization risk bias allows us to move away from dangerous dichotomies labeling entrepreneurs as purely risk seekers or risk avoiders and focus on a construct that incorporates two seemingly opposing views in past research (i.e. objective versus subjective risk) and address limitations related to development of context-specific risk constructs. Accordingly, we demonstrate that what outsiders view as ‘risky’ is not perceived the same way by those actually making the decisions, opening up fruitful avenues for future research. For example, to what extent do entrepreneurs make ‘accurate’ assessments of opportunity risk, and does the risk bias identified in our study lead to improved chances of internationalization success or failure (cf. Sapienza et al., 2006)? Our study extends prior cognitive research on internationalization because it captures risk bias in relation to the actual markets in which entrepreneurs decide to internationalize as opposed to measuring general risk perceived or general risk propensities. Further, the risk bias concept and measure focuses on how some entrepreneurs may see certain situations (e.g. countries) as less risky than others. We answer recent calls in the literature (e.g. Acedo & Florin, 2006) for research that takes into account characteristics of the internationalization opportunities pursued, and we highlight that cognitive research on internationalization should be placed in the context in which it occurs in order to accurately identify the links between cognitive variables and firm outcomes (c.f. Elsbach, Barr, & Hargadon, 2005). As such, our research opens up new avenues for studying how entrepreneurs ‘see’ internationalization opportunities. For example, do changes in risk bias result in seeing more opportunities, or does it act as a filtering mechanism, limiting the set of possible internationalization opportunities perceived by entrepreneurs? Further, in line with recent perspectives on cognitive processes associated with entrepreneur's actions (e.g. Gregoire, Corbett, & McMullen, 2011), our research opens up additional avenues to study how the national and institutional context in which the entrepreneurs are located influence the extent to which entrepreneurs develop proactive or reactive stances when pursuing internationalization and the extent to which these contextual factors influence their country risk assessments. With regards to international entrepreneurship research, this is one of the first studies to empirically examine the relationship between motivation, opportunity characteristics, and post-entry internationalization. Doing so, we reinforce the critical role of motivation, not just as a necessary antecedent to entrepreneurial action, but also as a change agent that directly alters how entrepreneurs perceive different opportunities, including internationalization opportunities. As such, we provide an additional means of understanding how and why entrepreneurs perceive certain opportunities to be less risky than others’ risk perceptions of the same opportunities or than an objective standard. In line with these findings, additional research might explore cognitive mechanisms by which motivations affect entrepreneurs’ decisions. As such, researchers could explore the role of affect and emotion (cf. Sinkovics, Zagelmeyer, & Kusstatscher, 2001) as important mediators influencing motivation and internationalization. Further, since entrepreneurs’ motivation is often reflected in their degree of behavioral engagement and personal investment in various firm-related activities including internationalization, additional research is needed to explore how commitment to acquire information and resources intervenes in the relationship between motivation and internationalization. Examples of specific cognitive constructs that may intervene in the relationship between motivation and internationalization include level of self-efficacy and regulatory focus (e.g. Hmieleski & Baron, 2009). Proactive motivation may be reflected in promotion focus while reactive motivation may be reflected in prevention focus that further influence the extent to which entrepreneurs explore and/or exploit internationalization opportunities. Finally, our finding that internationalization motivation and internationalization risk bias influence only one dimension of the post-entry international growth variable empirically validate the assertion that cognitive approaches to internationalization processes have the power to offer finer grained explanations for the internationalization patterns we observe (c.f. Zahra et al., 2005). The proactive motivation-low internationalization risk bias combination highlights important attributes of the cognitive profiles of entrepreneurs who engage in exploratory internationalization and target a higher number of countries. In contrast, the reactive motivation-high internationalization risk bias combination highlights attributes of the cognitive profiles of entrepreneurs who engage in exploitative internationalization. This suggests that motivation may provide predictable links between entrepreneurs and the choices new firms make because they influence how entrepreneurs define their international opportunities and how resources are allocated and priorities are set in order to build a firm's market position. Our research extends and builds upon interesting research on cognition and the ways in which opportunities are identified, evaluated, and exploited (cf. Gregoire et al., 2011 and Wood et al., 2012). This stream of research suggests that future research should explore the cognitive processes underpinning opportunity identification and evaluation and the means by which entrepreneurs shift in their thinking when moving from the evaluation ‘phase’ to taking concrete action to exploit opportunities. Additionally, our research opens avenues to explore the extent to which key cognitive antecedents, like motivation, influence the way in which entrepreneurs think about and go about identifying, evaluating, and exploiting internationalization opportunities. 5.1. Limitations, additional opportunities for future research and practical implications Our study has some limitations which can provide fruitful areas for future research. First, we only focus on two cognitive antecedents to internationalization patterns. However, a more accurate perspective of the role that cognition plays in internationalization could be obtained by focusing on various aspects of entrepreneurs’ domestic mindsets (e.g. Nadkarni & Perez, 2007) and how these interact with firm and industry related variables to predict degree of internationalization. Given the importance of the individual level of analysis on firm degree of internationalization (Kirca et al., 2012), further research examining the cognitive antecedents of firm degree of internationalization is warranted. A particularly interesting avenue for future research is the interplay between the specific experiences of entrepreneurs and the motivation and risk bias of these entrepreneurs. For example, how do entrepreneurs balance positive and negative experiences as they decide how and when to grow their new ventures internationally? Future research may also investigate the links between entrepreneurial motivation and/or country risk perceived and mode of internationalization. Prior research (e.g. Zahra et al., 2005) suggests that entrepreneurial motivation and other cognitive aspects may play an important role not just for the countries that they choose but also for the entry modes they prefer and the internationalization pace they adopt. Our results suggest that proactive internationalization motivations are likely to increase internationalization speed and lead to higher-commitment entry modes while reactive motivations may reduce internationalization speed and lead to low-commitment entry modes. While we tested the tenants of entrepreneurial action within a specific context, internationalization, future research should evaluate other contexts (e.g. start-up or growth) and different opportunity characteristics (e.g. similarity to current opportunities or ability to use current resources to exploit a new opportunity). The non-significant relationship in our study for the international intensity variable also suggests that the study of the magnitude of the opportunity and depth of opportunity exploitation are fruitful areas for future research. Our study is cross-sectional and retrospective in nature and does not capture the cognitive processes underlying the aggressiveness with which firms internationalize. Future studies may address this issue by employing longitudinal methodologies or experimental techniques, and methods that directly measure cognitive processes and/or the decision-making processes (e.g. choice experiments, conjoint analysis, verbal protocols) to capture the causal mechanisms underlying firm degree of internationalization and the processes surrounding the construction of mental models in the international arena. Finally, our study has implications for organizations in charge of trade promotion and for entrepreneurs and managers. For organizations that promote trade, the results of our study may help in correctly devising educational and training programs that encourage the proactive pursuit of international opportunities by firms (managers) interested in internationalizing their activities. Similarly, academic programs that encourage practical training abroad and thus exposure to a variety of cultural, institutional and economic settings would contribute to more accurate international risk perceptions. Although objective measures of country risk represent important starting points in gathering information about the markets to which decision-makers choose to extend their operations, they should not replace the collection of information relevant for the commercial activities of a firm (e.g. currency fluctuations, trade agreements) and experiential learning about foreign markets nor should they be used as an instrument to avoid the proactive pursuit of international opportunities. Further, entrepreneurs (managers) ought to consider the impact of their risk bias on their internationalization portfolio. We find that entrepreneurs’ motivation and risk bias influence the scope of internationalization, but not the intensity, which may imply a diversification effect of mitigating internationalization risk via multiple entries. Interestingly, prior work also suggests that entrepreneurs tend to ‘trade-off’ and balance internationalization risks (cf., Shrader et al., 2000). Thus, future research may explore the ways in which entrepreneurs make decisions to maximize the benefits of internationalization and minimize the risks.