Demystifying entrepreneurial internationalization through an entrepreneurial lens: case studies of Australian information and communications technology small to medium enterprises

Benli, F 2012, Demystifying entrepreneurial internationalization through an entrepreneurial lens: case studies of Australian information and communications technology small to medium enterprises, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Management, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Demystifying entrepreneurial internationalization through an entrepreneurial lens: case studies of Australian information and communications technology small to medium enterprises
Author(s) Benli, F
Year 2012
Abstract This thesis examines the entrepreneurial internationalisation activities of Australian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through an entrepreneurial theoretical perspective. The field of international entrepreneurship evolved from McDougall’s (1989) study which compared domestic versus international new ventures and provided an early definition of the term ‘international entrepreneurship’ (IE) as new ventures that engaged in international business. Research in IE has mainly focused on new patterns and timing of SME internationalisation without reference to entrepreneurship theory as the primary theme. According to Shane and Venkataraman (2000, p. 218) entrepreneurship theory is ‘the ‘study of discovery, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities’. Oviatt and McDougall (2005, p. 540) define IE as ‘the discovery, enactment, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities – across national borders – to create future goods and services’. International new venture creation, a process influenced by founder-managers, firm characteristics and capabilities, and the external environment, is examined through an entrepreneurial theoretical lens.

This thesis was undertaken for three key reasons. The first was to examine entrepreneurial internationalisation through an entrepreneurial theoretical lens as opposed to using international business theories. The second was to conduct qualitative studies to investigate and advance theoretical insights. Finally, the examination of entrepreneurial internationalisation utilising entrepreneurship as the primary theme encompassed issues such as opportunity recognition and exploitation. Case study was the prime methodology for this research and in-depth case interviews were conducted with eight founders and senior managers involved in internationalisation. Multiple sources of data were used for validity and reliability through triangulation. The sample consisted of eight internationalised Australian ICT SMEs that produce hardware or software for international markets. The findings revealed that firstly, opportunity seeking actors have the ability to scan and exploit trends of change and introduce new products, services or processes by starting a new international venture. Secondly, opportunity seeking drives firms to leapfrog stages of international strategies when this suits the opportunity being exploited. Thirdly, agile entrepreneurial firms have the ability to innovate rapidly and simultaneously to adapt and integrate product, processes, services and strategies to match and create global ICT markets. Finally, agile entrepreneurial firms have the ability to collaborate and manage partnerships with internal and external stakeholders for knowledge creation and risk sharing. Overall, the findings support other findings that international entrepreneurship is a dynamic and adaptive phenomenon (Evangelista 2005; Coviello, McDougall & Oviatt 2011; Jones, Coviello & Tang 2011). Through the entrepreneurial viewpoint of internationalisation, the results reveal that there is a ‘hostile’ and small Australian ICT market which has fostered opportunity-seeking and advantage-seeking behaviour for founders and managers of ICT SMEs. Management teams are seeking global opportunities that increase firm sales and profitability. They are seeking global advantages by collaborating with partners that give them the best advantages for knowledge creation and risk minimisation. Implications for theory suggest that a holistic view of entrepreneurial internationalisation should be dynamic, so that entrepreneurial firms adapt readily and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to create wealth.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Management
Keyword(s) Entrepreneurial internationalisation
Opportunity recognition and exploitation
New venture creation
International new ventures
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