The internationalisation of British start-up companies in high-technology industries
The present thesis analyses the international activities of British start-up companies in high-technology industries. The research makes the following contributions. First, it is the first study that establishes the prevalence of internationally operating start-up companies in a particular country. Accordingly, we find that the majority of British high-tech start-ups have engaged in international activities within a few years since formation. Second, it consolidates the existing knowledge in the field of international entrepreneurship and subjects it to empirical testing. Third, it assesses the power of different theories in international business to explain the cross-border activities of start-up companies. We analysed the determinants of the decision to internationalise, the degree of internationalisation and the timing of internationalisation. Our results suggest that firm size has a positive impact on these dependent variables. However, the threshold value for a positive likelihood of initiating international sales is well below the median size of the population, therefore suggesting that scale-related barriers to internationalisation can be overcome quite easily. Internationalisation is positively influenced by the international experience of the founders, technology intensity and the innovativeness of the technology incorporated in the products. Internationalisation is negatively influenced by a product's degree of clientspecific customisation. External finance and transaction costs during the sales process did not impact on these dimensions of internationalisation. When looking at the choice of market entry mode, we find that the innovativeness of the technology incorporated in a product lead to a higher probability of involving intermediaries. While this is apparently at odds with theory, we argue that an intermediary is a mechanism for start-ups to overcome the "liability of alienness" and to gain legitimacy in foreign markets. Overall, the research lends support to a resource-based perspective of international entrepreneurship since the proxies for transaction cost-based arguments and the internationalisation process theory are of limited explanatory power.