A holistic approach to internationalisation : motives, enablers and patterns of emerging market SMEs

  • Hasan Harmanci

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


    Firm internationalisation has been a popular subject in the international business literature for many decades, with a strong focus on multinational enterprises (MNEs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from developed markets. Despite the recent interest in exploring the internationalisation of large MNEs from emerging markets, there is limited research on SMEs from emerging markets (EM SMEs). This study holistically explores EM SMEs' internationalisation motives, enablers, and patterns by extending the Goldilocks debate to SME internationalisation.

    While the purpose of this study is to understand the internationalisation of EM manufacturing SMEs, it seeks answers to why, what, how, when, and to what extent questions relating to the firms' internationalisation. The existing perspectives are reviewed to achieve the research objectives by identifying motives, enablers and patterns relating to firm internationalisation. A case study method has been utilised with qualitative semi-structured interviews conducted with EM SMEs' decision-makers. The primary data are supported by secondary data, including supporting documents and additional interviews to triangulate the findings. Collected data is analysed using qualitative data analysis techniques, including coding, categorising the data into themes, identifying patterns, and devising a conceptual framework.

    This thesis shows that EM SMEs predominantly use institutional networks rather than social networks. It demonstrates the importance of strategic entrepreneurship and government support as enablers, and the firms pursue proactive and reactive motives by following incremental patterns using exporting as the only entry mode. This study suggests that a holistic approach is important to better understand the phenomenon of internationalisation by demonstrating the influence of internationalisation motives and enablers on the firms' internationalisation patterns. The implications for managers and policymakers are discussed. Future research can extend the findings in this study by applying the conceptual framework in different countries and by testing the findings on a wider population to generalise the results.
    Date of Award16 Jun 2023
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of St Andrews
    SupervisorMahmoud Abdel Khalik (Supervisor) & David John Dowell (Supervisor)


    • Internationalisation
    • Emerging market SMEs
    • Holistic approach
    • Turkish SMEs

    Access Status

    • Full text embargoed until
    • 1 December 2027

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