Be international or be innovative? Or be both? This is a common dilemma for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which often perceive their lack of resources as a barrier to implementing both development paths at the same time. This paper argues that characteristics of the entrepreneur/the management team play a crucial role in that they drive the firm towards one or a combination of these two alternative growth strategies,. providing entrepreneurs with a much better understanding of the main strategic options and their relationship with the performance of the firm. We provide a literature review on extant research which deals with the characteristics of entrepreneurs as related to innovation and internationalisation and the associated performance consequences. The empirical investigation is based on a sample of Italian SMEs. operating in Lombardy in different industries – one of the strongest economic areas – which was drawn from official statistic. Cluster analysis is used to group the SMEs along their entrepreneurial profiles, internationalization degrees and innovation orientation. Three significantly different groups emerge, i.e. the typical Italian family firm, a group of businesses which represents the solitary self-made man, and the team-founded firms. These three clusters show significant differences in internationalisation and innovation behaviour. Interestingly, the three groups’ degree of internationalization seems to be more a question of type (product, process, marketing/organizational practice) than of level of innovation Team-founded firms, which innovate marketing/organizational practices, are the most intensive internationalisers, whereas family firms concentrate predominantly on product innovation and the domestic market. The study contributes to the debate about the relation between internationalization and innovation from an entrepreneurship point of view ad offers insights s for SMEs regarding the choice of growth strategies.

BE INTERNATIONAL OR BE INNOVATIVE? THE IMPACT OF ENTREPRENEURIAL PROFILES IN DRIVING THE STRATEGY OF SMES

DENICOLAI, STEFANO;HAGEN, BIRGIT;
2012

Abstract

Be international or be innovative? Or be both? This is a common dilemma for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which often perceive their lack of resources as a barrier to implementing both development paths at the same time. This paper argues that characteristics of the entrepreneur/the management team play a crucial role in that they drive the firm towards one or a combination of these two alternative growth strategies,. providing entrepreneurs with a much better understanding of the main strategic options and their relationship with the performance of the firm. We provide a literature review on extant research which deals with the characteristics of entrepreneurs as related to innovation and internationalisation and the associated performance consequences. The empirical investigation is based on a sample of Italian SMEs. operating in Lombardy in different industries – one of the strongest economic areas – which was drawn from official statistic. Cluster analysis is used to group the SMEs along their entrepreneurial profiles, internationalization degrees and innovation orientation. Three significantly different groups emerge, i.e. the typical Italian family firm, a group of businesses which represents the solitary self-made man, and the team-founded firms. These three clusters show significant differences in internationalisation and innovation behaviour. Interestingly, the three groups’ degree of internationalization seems to be more a question of type (product, process, marketing/organizational practice) than of level of innovation Team-founded firms, which innovate marketing/organizational practices, are the most intensive internationalisers, whereas family firms concentrate predominantly on product innovation and the domestic market. The study contributes to the debate about the relation between internationalization and innovation from an entrepreneurship point of view ad offers insights s for SMEs regarding the choice of growth strategies.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/575161
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