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Industry characteristics and internationalization processes in small firms
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
1996 (English)In: Journal of Business Venturing, ISSN 0883-9026, E-ISSN 1873-2003, Vol. 11, no 6, 471-487 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this study of small firms is to compare the process of internationalization in traditional manufacturing companies with corresponding processes in companies oriented toward innovation. Case studies were conducted in six small Nordic companies: three conventional and three innovative. The underlying concept of the conventional companies is strictly production oriented. Investment in engineering workshops and an effective organization for production constitute their most important strategy. In the innovative companies the production equipment is relatively easy to move, and over the years these companies have changed the location of production plants a number of times. The basic meaning of technology also differs in the two categories of industries. The conventional companies are based on an established technology that can be purchased through well-known market channels. In the innovative companies the process of developing new products or serving as intermediary between research organizations and end users demands close contact with people and organizations close to the technological core of the industry. The conventional companies are incorporated into a multidimensional industrial system of suppliers, competitors, and other companies, and the individual companies within these industries are constrained by the rules dictated by these networks. The innovative companies all have a concentrated product scope, which implies that it is relatively easy to achieve efficiency in various functions such as R&D, production, and marketing activities. This clear distinction between functions has been advantageous to the process of internationalization. The conventional companies have characteristics typical of family-controlled companies, i.e., the management team consists of a handful of people often closely associated with the owner family. The observation on the industry level that the game is governed by some very rigid rules is also evident on the management level, where the significant people are always kept within narrow limits. The individuals in the innovative companies have a very high level of education; they work in teams together with partners from other companies and/or organizations and they adhere to high professional demands. The results from these six case studies indicate that the internationalization process must be understood in the context of the industry, company, and people involved. International trade and cooperation will most certainly increase. Therefore it is important to observe that the conditions for industries and single companies are different. Conventional companies have a natural local concentration that ultimately implies different strategies from the innovative companies who have a global focus.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
1996. Vol. 11, no 6, 471-487 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-45644DOI: 10.1016/S0883-9026(96)89166-XOAI: diva2:433031
Available from: 2011-08-08 Created: 2011-08-08 Last updated: 2011-08-10Bibliographically approved

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Boter, Håkan
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