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Title: Internationalization of the small owner-managed firm : evidence from a developing country
Author: Williams, Densil A.
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2006
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Why of the population of small owner-managed firms, some choose to sell a portion of their sales abroad while seemingly similar others facing similar market conditions remain focused on their domestic market? Various explanations to this question have come from the extensive literature looking at the export behaviour of the firm, the internationalization process of the firm and international entrepreneurship. The results from these literature however, are generally fragmented, inconclusive and limited in geographic scope with the majority focusing on the US or European firms. Moreover, despite this large body of work, there is only a comparatively limited amount of information addressing the issue from the perspective of the small owner-managed firm. This therefore leaves a gap in our knowledge regarding the internationalization behaviour of these firms especially those from developing countries. For indeed, because of the context specific nature of most of the studies looking at internationalization, it becomes increasingly difficult to generalize findings across geographic borders especially from developed to developing countries where socio-economic conditions are different. Recognizing the drawbacks in the literature, we have proposed to shed light on the issue from a non US/European perspective. Seeing the theoretical limitations in the field, we have developed a theoretically rigorous but parsimonious conceptual model to capture the export behaviour of small owner-managed firms from a developing country perspective. Theoretical insights from the Resource-based theory, Process theory of Internationalization, Network theory, Entrepreneurship theory and International New Venture theory among others were drawn upon in building our theoretical framework. The basic argument behind the model is that: the decision to initiate exporting is a function of stimuli (latent or manifest) inducing entry into international markets. However, stimuli alone cannot result in the firm becoming an exporter. The resources and capabilities which the firm possess will determine how it interprets these stimuli in making the decision to initiate exporting. Importantly, we argue that these stimuli have to be brought to the attention of the entrepreneur before a decision can be made of whether to export or not. To empirically validate our theoretical model, data were collected from exporting and nonexporting small owner-managed firms in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors in the Jamaican economy. Data were analysed using quantitative techniques and descriptive mini-case studies. Our quantitative techniques involved econometric models of the qualitative genre (logistic regression) and descriptive statistics such as the mean and chisquare. Mini-case studies were also used to provide further empirical validation to our findings based on qualitative responses. The results from the analysis indicate that the model matches well with the empirical data. Firms possessing the following resources: a standardized product, a high quality product, foreign travel experience of the entrepreneur and the previous professional experience of the entrepreneur are more amenable to export. Firm size is also found to be a significant variable in determining export initiation. We also found that non-exporters do not respond to export stimuli because of their preoccupation with their domestic market. They also have a strong perception that their product is not for sale in the export market. Our major contribution is the building of the integrated model and empirically validating it using data from a non European/US context which is a departure from the general trend in the literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available