Domestic and international performance of UK SMEs: resources and market learning effects.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis examines jointly the domestic and international market activities of United Kingdom (UK) small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The study seeks to extend the foundational arguments of international business and international entrepreneurship on differences between domestic and international market activities. It is shown that despite its foundational nature, this theme has received limited and fragmentary research attention. Moreover, none of the theme-related studies identified had applied the resource-based view (RBV) to explain performance, despite the fact that performance is a construct of fundamental research interest and the RBV largely guides management inquiry into the performance determinants. Drawing on the RBV, this research seeks to make a unique contribution towards the holistic understanding of firm performance by uncovering the effects of domestic and international firm resources and market learning on both domestic and international performance.
This research pursues a positivist and mixed-method approach, combining qualitative case studies and a large-scale quantitative survey on UK SMEs. The qualitative research phase consists of six case studies, whereas the quantitative phase is based upon a sample of 307 SMEs. The statistical technique of linear multiple regression analysis is employed to analyse this sample and discover whether the hypotheses of this research are supported. The quantitative phase is central and the qualitative phase aims at pre-understanding and facilitating the research process. Hence, the case study research assists the hypothesis development and the interpretation of the survey findings in retrospect.
The findings of this research have significant implications for theory and practice. Firstly, domestic and international resources and market learning are found to influence positively domestic and international performance, respectively. A valuable finding for future research on firm market learning processes is that these resources effects seem to be much stronger than the respective market learning ones. Secondly, international resources are found to have a lesser impact on domestic SME performance compared to the effects of domestic resources on domestic performance. Respectively, domestic resources are indicated to have a lesser impact on international performance. Conversely, the equivalent effects of market learning are not established. Lastly, it is intriguing that: a. a positive relationship between domestic resources and international performance is not supported; and b. a negative relationship between international resources and domestic performance is partially supported. These contributions provide a fuller understanding of the complex relationship between domestic and international market activities, and should stimulate further research on this important theme.
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