Competition strategies in international markets : the role of entrepreneurial orientation and the Internet on the export performance of UK based small and medium sized enterprises
This thesis explores the potential impact of the Internet and international entrepreneurship on the export performance of UK based Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in the following sectors: food and beverages, textiles, clothing and fur, biotechnology and instrumentation, and computers and office machinery. The findings reveal that, in general, UK based SMEs are moderately committed to Internet technologies and that their owner/managers are innovative, moderately proactive and risk takers. The findings also show that the export performance of SMEs is influenced by a mix of entrepreneurs characteristics (i.e. perceptions of growth, profits and costs of exporting, level of education, work responsibility, work experience and proactivity) and the level of Internet commitment of the firm (i.e. email and Intranet, interconnectivity, Internet information, perceived external Internet benefits and promotion on the Web). These antecedents reflect the current environment w here globalisation and advances in information and communication technology (ICT) put pressure on SMEs and give them hope to participate more effectively in international markets. Also, this result gives support to the Resource Based View (RBV) and indicates that UK based SMEs export performance is highly attributed to the resources and competencies at the owner/managers level (i.e. owner/managers social psychological characteristics and entrepreneurial orientation behaviour) and at the level of the firm (i.e. level of Internet commitment). Moreover, the results give some support to the incremental internationalisation process, where almost half of the firms are following the conventional models of internationalisation and export to the psychically close country, namely the USA. Also, the findings support the 'born global' phenomenon where half the firms investigated have started internationalising either from, or shortly after, inception. Four categories of UK based SMEs were identified and recommendations made according to the firm level of Internet use (high versus low) and owner/managers entrepreneurial orientation behaviour (high versus low). Implications for policy makers evolved around targeting different SMEs with different export promotion assistance schemes and international business education programmes, raising awareness about the global scope of Internet e-commerce in helping SMEs enter and succeed in export markets, and fostering networking among firms interested in international markets.