Title: Internationalisation strategies and firms' performance. A co-evolutionary study on Italian SMEs

Authors: Matteo Cristofaro; Giacomo Caterini

Addresses: University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', Via Columbia, 2, 00133 Rome, Italy ' University of Trento, Via Verdi, 26, 38122 Trento, Italy

Abstract: The hypercompetitive business landscape that SMEs are currently facing is increasingly pushing them to internationalise their businesses. In doing that, entrepreneurs and executives make important strategic choices related to their investments in cost leadership and differentiation strategies to improve, or at least maintain, their current performance. However, despite the great interest of scholars on this theme, there are no studies about the effects of these different courses of action on firms' performance, especially considering the concurrent influence of sectorial and macroeconomic trends. This contribution, which looks at the dialectical relationship between firms' strategic choices and their environment according to a co-evolutionary perspective, tries to fill this gap presenting evidence from a panel study of 4,098 Italian SMEs over ten years (2008-2017). Findings show that environmental trends and strategic choices simultaneously influence internationalised SMEs' performance and that these firms adapt their strategic choices according to market munificence. Entrepreneurs and executives of SMEs may benefit from the results of this study in order to make better strategic choices when defining their internationalisation strategies.

Keywords: internationalisation; strategy; decision making; co-evolution; small medium enterprise; SMEs.

DOI: 10.1504/IJGSB.2020.10020702

International Journal of Globalisation and Small Business, 2020 Vol.11 No.2, pp.178 - 199

Received: 03 Aug 2018
Accepted: 02 Jan 2019

Published online: 13 Aug 2020 *

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