The internationalisation of Chinese transnational entrepreneurial firms: a comparative study with indigenous counterparts in Canada and UK

Li, Nicolas (2015) The internationalisation of Chinese transnational entrepreneurial firms: a comparative study with indigenous counterparts in Canada and UK. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis investigates the internationalisation characteristics of transnational entrepreneurial firms (TEFs) that are owned by the first-generation, immigrant entrepreneurs maintaining business arrangements at least in their home and host countries. Although there has been a growing recognition in the literature calling for an emergent research agenda on this emerging type of internationalised small- and medium-sized enterprises, there have been few empirical efforts on TEF internationalisation. It is thus still unknown whether TEFs internationalise differently compared to indigenous entrepreneurial firms (IEFs) that are natively-grown international entrepreneurial firms in the TEF’s host country. Using the resource-based view (RBV), this study seeks to fill this gap in the international entrepreneurship and transnational entrepreneurship literatures by gaining insights into the internationalisation of TEFs, its antecedents and effects on international performance through a comparison of TEF/IEF activities. Based on an RBV-oriented conceptual framework encompassing internationalisation antecedents, dimensions and outcomes of the firm, the research explores and answers the research questions: What drives TEFs to internationalise, how do they internationalise, and what is their international performance (compared with IEFs)?

To accomplish the aim of exploring TEF internationalisation with comparison to IEF internationalisation, this work uses a qualitative approach based on eight case studies. Case data are collected from sixteen semi-structured interviews with CEOs and senior directors of Chinese TEFs and IEFs from Canada and the UK, and archival data including company history, websites, media reports, and financial information. Additional interviews with three business consultant experts are supplemented.

Findings largely confirm that TEFs internationalise differently than IEFs. Compared with IEFs, TEFs possess a higher level of entrepreneurial orientation (manifested by a combination of high levels of proactiveness, innovativeness, and risk taking), network proclivity (evident in the shared cultural dimension of social capital) and international motivation. High levels of mixed embeddedness also facilitate TEF internationalisation. In general, while TEFs are more probable to be fast rather than incremental internationalisers to enter their home country market, geographic distance plays an important role in their international market selection, i.e. geographic distance positively affects TEFs’ proclivity to get into the key market of their industry. For TEFs, psychic distance plays a less prominent role in shaping their internationalisation traits. TEFs’ international performance also has a positive reverse causative effect on their internationalisation dimensions and antecedents, e.g. superior performance strongly promotes a higher level of international motivation. However, the effect of lower international performance is inconclusive.

This thesis concludes with a discussion of the implications for management and policy makers. For example, TEF managers should overcome geographic distance to enter the main national market of their industry, if not their home country, for better international performance. As for host country policy makers, they should appreciate TEFs’ potential contribution to the host economy, understand how they internationalise and consider the provision of cost-effective and niche assistance to TEFs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Transnational entrepreneurship, international entrepreneurship, SME internationalisation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Supervisor's Name: Dimitratos, Prof. Pavlos, Buck, Prof. Trevor and Fletcher, Dr. Margaret
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Nicolas Li
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6083
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2015 08:58
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2015 12:46

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