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Title: Exploring the role of the entrepreneur in retail SME internationalisation : an analysis of retail cases in North-Western Europe
Author: Christmann, Helen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 3290
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2019
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While the international business literature increasingly sees SME internationalisation as the act of the entrepreneur, the retail management literature lacks insights into the role of the entrepreneur in retail SME internationalisation. Neither entrepreneurial characteristics nor actions are sufficiently understood. A critical research gap relates to entrepreneurial marketing and management of brand identity - a key resource enabling differentiation - as well as networking that helps overcoming resource and competence deficiencies. This thesis seeks to advance the retail management literature by putting the entrepreneur in the centre of attention. Recent debates on international entrepreneurship in combination with those on the dynamic capabilities-based view are integrated. In doing so, it is aimed for a focussed exploration of entrepreneurial characteristics and marketing- and networking-related dynamic capabilities, and how these underpin retail SME internationalisation. This thesis adopts an exploratory inductive research design, including 54 interviews with industry-experts and elite informants from nine North-Western European retail SMEs. It identifies international experiences, international entrepreneurial orientation and learning orientation as vital characteristics that inform internationalisation decision-making and problem-solving. Through specific marketing-related dynamic capabilities, the entrepreneur coherently re-creates and renews brand identity in international markets. In doing so, he/she stimulates differentiation and superior competitiveness. Identified entrepreneurial networking-related dynamic capabilities do not directly contribute to differentiation and competitiveness. Instead, they are found to promote marketing-related capabilities. Building upon these results, this study develops the first academic framework depicting retail SME internationalisation as a process driven by the entrepreneur. This study clarifies the role of the entrepreneur in retail SME internationalisation, moving beyond the retail management literature's previous firm-level focus. It thus closes a critical research gap. The international business literature benefits from called-for empirical substantiation of the dynamic capabilities-based view. Practitioners learn how specific entrepreneurial characteristics and actions inform successful internationalisation, stimulating critical reflection of own practices.
Supervisor: Alexander, Andrew ; Wood, Steve Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral