Leveraging Integrated Partnerships as a Means of Developing International Capability: An SME Case Study

By Anne Susan Hampton and James William Rowell.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper aims to develop knowledge and understanding of how SMEs advance in the international market arena. It builds on earlier research on the internationalization process of UK SMEs (Hampton and Rowell (2009 a & b)) through an in-depth examination of a company based in Milton Keynes, UK. The company was established in 1977 and has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise four times, for international trade and innovation. The company first exported products 7 years after its inception, but now operates in over 40 countries. The paper examines earlier theories and concepts of the internationalization process and focuses on the transition of management behaviour as the company becomes increasingly international in its outlook. It considers the routes SMEs take to enter new markets, and how they develop both their knowledge and capabilities, to strengthen their presence in the international arena. The discussion of this case study examines the criteria used for distributor selection; cultural and functional/structural adaptations made in working with international distributors; the use made of distributors in developing deeper knowledge of local markets and building
the brand; timescales and the degree of motivation/commitment for building such partnership arrangements; and approaches to improving communication links across the firm. The conclusion shows that, although the company in question has been reactive in taking advantage of specific opportunities as they have arisen, they have also been proactive and creative in building relationships with partner organizations; strategic in recruitment and development of staff; and effective in addressing the communications challenges faced by an SME.

Keywords: Internationalization, Partnership Development, SMEs, International Capabilities

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp.19-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 602.467KB).

Anne Susan Hampton

Senior Lecturer in International Business and Marketing, Business School, University of Buckingham, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, UK

James William Rowell

Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management, Business School, University of Buckingham, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, UK


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