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Innovative Behaviour of Small Firms: Essays on Small Firms' Internationalisation and Use of Online Channels
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Innovationsbeteende i mindre företag : Studier av internationalisering och användande av onlinekanaler i mindre företag (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The spread of information technology and the dissolution of international borders have had a significant impact on the challenges and opportunities faced by today's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Innovative behaviour on the part of SMEs is a prerequisite for a successful transformation of the opportunities offered by these structural changes into growth and profitability. Thus, the overall aim of this thesis is to advance the understanding of small firms' innovative behaviour as manifested in the adoption of online channels and internationalisation.

This doctoral thesis consists of an introductory chapter and six self-contained essays. The introductory section develops a general analytical framework for the thesis by reviewing the literature on innovation and organisational innovativeness and identifying key determinants and processes. The first four essays seek to explain a firm's propensity to adopt online channels and suggest that firm size and a firm's willingness to cannibalise, i.e. a firm's readiness to reduce the actual or potential value of its earlier investments, differentiate between adopters and non-adopters of online channels. Expectations of alienating resellers through online channel adoption may prevent a firm from adopting. Customers' pull, competitors' push and previous use of the Internet turned out to be strong drivers of online channel use. The fourth essay employs a two-wave research design and highlights that changes that occur in the technological and economic environment in which firms operate can, over time, change a firm's pattern of decision-making from innovation adoption to conventional cost-benefit approach. Essays five and six focus on the internationalisation of SMEs. In particular, essay five focuses on the process aspects of internationalisation and suggests that early importing has a modest direct influence on exporting, and that early importing activity indirectly enhances a firm's international experience and capabilities. Essay six investigates how competitive interactions affect internationalisation and suggests that cooperation with competitors, or coopetition, is a noteworthy internationalisation motive.

This thesis contributes to the literature on innovation, internationalisation, electronic marketing and small business management and demonstrates that the dynamic forces associated with innovative behaviour affect SMEs adoption of online channels and how they work with customers and suppliers abroad.

Abstract [sv]

Spridningen av informationsteknik och en kraftig ökning av handel och samarbete över ländergränser har haft en betydande effekt på de utmaningar och möjligheter som dagens små och medelstora företag (SMF) står inför. De små och medelstora företagens innovationsbeteende är dock en förutsättning för att de framgångsrikt skall kunna ta tillvara de möjligheter som dessa strukturella förändringar skapar för att åstadkomma tillväxt och lönsamhet. Således är det övergripande syftet med denna avhandling att utveckla kunskap om innovationsbeteende i små företag, så som detta manifesteras i användande av onlinekanaler och deltagande i internationaliseringsprocesser.

Denna avhandling består av ett inledande kapitel och sex fristående essäer. I det inledande kapitlet utvecklas ett övergripande analytiskt ramverk för avhandlingen, utifrån en litteraturöversikt av begreppen innovation och organisatorisk innovativitet där de viktigaste determinanterna och processerna identifieras. De första fyra essäerna försöker förklara ett företags benägenhet till adoption av onlinekanaler och föreslår att företagets storlek och vilja att kannibalisera, dvs ett företags beredskap att minska det faktiska eller potentiella värdet av dess tidigare investeringar, skiljer sig mellan de som använder respektive de som inte använder kanaler på nätet. Förväntningar att återförsäljare skulle bli negativt inställda om företag börjar använda onlinekanaler kan hindra företag från att investera i dem. Karaktäristika hos kunderna, utmaningar från konkurrenterna och tidigare användning av Internet visade sig vara starka drivkrafter bakom användningen av onlinekanaler. I den fjärde essäen, som baseras på data insamlad under två olika tidsperioder, visas att de förändringar som sker i den tekniska och ekonomiska miljö i vilken företagen är verksamma, kan med tiden innebära att beslutsfattandet skiftar från innovationstänkande till traditionellt kostnads​​-nyttotänkande. Essä fem och sex fokuserar på internationaliseringsprocesser i små och medelstora företag. Den femte essäen studerar i första hand internationaliseringsprocessen och visar på att tidig erfarenhet från importverksamhet enbart har en mindre inverkan på omfattningen av företagets framtida export. Tidig importerfarenhet har emellertid även en indirekt positiv effekt på företagets proaktiva attityd till internationalisering. Essä sex undersöker hur interaktion med konkurrenter påverkar internationaliseringen och visar att samarbete med konkurrenter, eller ”coopetition”, kan ha en betydande effekt på motiv till internationalisering.

Denna avhandling bidrar till litteraturen inom områdena innovation, internationalisering, digital marknadsföring och ledning av små och medelstora företag. Den visar att de dynamiska krafter som ligger bakom innovationsbeteende påverkar små och medelstora företags användning av onlinekanaler samt hur denna företagsgrupp arbetar med kunder och leverantörer utomlands.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå universitet , 2011. , 59 p.
Series
Studier i företagsekonomi. Serie B, ISSN 0346-8291 ; 78
Keyword [en]
Innovation, small and medium-sized enterprises, Internet, marketing, internationalisation, Sweden, Finland
Keyword [sv]
Innovation, små och medelstora företag, onlinekanaler, Internet, marknadsföring, internationalisering, Sverige, Finland
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-43819ISBN: 978-91-7459-234-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-43819DiVA: diva2:416189
Public defence
2011-06-10, Hörsal A, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-05-13 Created: 2011-05-10 Last updated: 2011-05-11Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Integrating the Internet and Marketing Operations: A Study of Antecedents in Firms of Different Size
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Integrating the Internet and Marketing Operations: A Study of Antecedents in Firms of Different Size
2007 (English)In: International Small Business Journal, ISSN 0266-2426, Vol. 25, no 1, 27-48 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Adopting the Internet for advanced marketing operations opens up challenging opportunities for firms of all sizes. However, such adoption might destroy investments in present market channels and thus has the characteristics of radical innovation. In this article, we draw on the literature on innovation to investigate what differentiates adopters of advanced Internet-based marketing operations from non-adopters in firms of different sizes. The conceptual model for this study is centred on the set of internal and external factors size, willingness to cannibalize, entrepreneurial drivers, management support, and market pressure. Our analysis is built on survey data from 379 Swedish manufacturing firms. The results of analysis show that composition of factors on which firms base their decision to adopt advanced Internet-based marketing operations varies signifi cantly with fi rm size. A number of implications for further research as well as for managers and educators are discussed.

Keyword
adoption of innovation, channels, entrepreneurship, firm size, Internet, marketing, willingness to cannibalize
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-10627 (URN)doi:10.1177/0266242607071780 (DOI)
Available from: 2007-03-01 Created: 2007-03-01 Last updated: 2011-05-11Bibliographically approved
2. The dual effect of resellers on electronic business adoption by SMEs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The dual effect of resellers on electronic business adoption by SMEs
2008 (English)In: The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, ISSN 1465-7503, Vol. 9, no 1, 43-49 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examines the effects resellers have on the decision of a small manufacturing firm to adopt e-business. These effects are twofold: fear of alienating a reseller can impede the adoption, while the reseller's intentions to invest in e-business can facilitate the adoption. Both effects are more pronounced for firms with fewer than 50 employees and almost irrelevant for firms with more than 200 employees. The explicit channel cannibalization effect and the moderating role of the willingness to cannibalize are also significant.

Keyword
resellers, willingness to cannibalize, Internet channel, SMEs
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-9030 (URN)
Available from: 2008-02-27 Created: 2008-02-27 Last updated: 2011-05-11Bibliographically approved
3. Innovation at the Intersection of Market Strategy and Technology: A Study of Digital Marketing Adoption among SMEs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Innovation at the Intersection of Market Strategy and Technology: A Study of Digital Marketing Adoption among SMEs
2008 (English)In: Entrepreneurship, Sustainable Growth and Performance: Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research, Edwar Elgar Publishing, Northampton , 2008, 299-323 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Edwar Elgar Publishing, Northampton, 2008
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-10630 (URN)978 1 84720 853 8 (ISBN)
Available from: 2008-10-13 Created: 2008-10-13 Last updated: 2011-05-11Bibliographically approved
4. A Two-wave Study of SME’s Use of the Internet for Marketing and Sales
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Two-wave Study of SME’s Use of the Internet for Marketing and Sales
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Keyword
online channel, marketing, innovation, exploration, exploitation, SME, two-wave
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-43818 (URN)
Available from: 2011-05-10 Created: 2011-05-10 Last updated: 2011-05-11
5. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises' Internationalization and the Influence of Importing on Exporting
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Small and Medium-sized Enterprises' Internationalization and the Influence of Importing on Exporting
2007 (English)In: International Small Business Journal, ISSN 0266-2426, Vol. 25, no 5, 459-477 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Relative to the volume of research into internationalization, inward operations have received much less attention than outward operations. This study addresses this imbalance by focusing on the degree to which firms import, how imports started relative to exports, and what import-related factors affect exporting. Findings from a survey of Finnish SMEs suggest that responding firms rate management interest, limited domestic market, and inquiries from buyers as the most significant incentives to start exporting. Import-experienced exporters assign higher ratings on nearly all export incentives, while pure-exporters consider themselves more dependent on governmental support. Importing per se has a comparatively modest, yet statistically significant, influence on exporting.

Keyword
exporting, Finland, importing, importing-exporting, internationalization, inward, inward-outward, outward, SME
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-17109 (URN)doi:DOI: 10.1177/0266242607080655 (DOI)
Available from: 2007-10-31 Created: 2007-10-31 Last updated: 2011-05-11Bibliographically approved
6. Cooperation with competitors and internationalization: Evidence from the West Coast of Finland
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cooperation with competitors and internationalization: Evidence from the West Coast of Finland
2009 (English)In: Journal of Euromarketing, ISSN 1049-6483, Vol. 18, no 2, 89-100 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Firms' cooperation with customers and suppliers has received a great deal of attention, whereas business relationships with competitors have not been recognized in internationalization studies. This study focuses on small and midsized enterprises (SMEs) and cooperation in business network by comparing firms that are engaged in cooperative arrangements with firms that are not on how they rate export motivations, evaluate the relative importance of various cooperation objectives, and examines the potential relationship between export motives and cooperation objectives. Findings from a survey of Finnish SMEs suggest that firms regard cooperation with competitors as a noteworthy internationalization motive. The structure of various cooperation goals is examined and then related to the export motives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2009
Keyword
Cooperation, co-opetition, internationalization, SME, Finland
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-23491 (URN)10.1080/10496480903022238 (DOI)
Available from: 2009-06-22 Created: 2009-06-22 Last updated: 2012-01-27Bibliographically approved

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