Title: Portuguese textile association fostering the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises

Authors: Eric Costa; António Lucas Soares; Jorge Pinho De Sousa; Maria Elo; Susana Costa e Silva

Addresses: Research, Innovation and Enterprise, Solent University, Southampton, UK; INESC Technology and Science (INESC TEC), Campus da FEUP, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias 378, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal ' Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto, Portugal; INESC Technology and Science (INESC TEC), Campus da FEUP, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias 378, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal ' Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto, Portugal; INESC Technology and Science (INESC TEC), Campus da FEUP, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias 378, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal ' International Business & Entrepreneurship, Institute for Marketing & Management, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense, Denmark; Belt and Road Institute of International Business, School of Economics, Shanghai University, 99 Shangda Road, Baoshan, Shanghai, China; Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, 20014 Turun Yliopisto, Finland ' Católica Porto Business School, Rua Diogo Botelho, 1327, 4169-005 Porto, Portugal

Abstract: The support and influence of industrial business associations (IBAs) for the internationalisation process of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is questioned. This qualitative case study on the textile industry in Portugal illustrates how SMEs are influenced by their IBA. Findings suggest that it has a preponderant role in supporting the international expansion of associated SMEs. Particularly, the promotion and organisation of trade fairs seem to foster first entries and continuous international expansion in the same way the IBA seems to influence their foreign market selection. However, SMEs feel that the IBA's work could still be improved by their facilitating more matchmaking processes, promoting collaborations, improving their seizing of available internationalisation opportunities, and providing more information about agents and distributors in foreign markets. Thus, we can say that, despite the internet and global opportunities that firms can directly benefit from, the role of IBAs is still relevant for SME's internationalisation, and there is still room for improvement.

Keywords: international business intermediaries; internationalisation; small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; industrial business associations; IBAs; internationalisation process; business networks; institutional networks.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2020.10026914

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2022 Vol.45 No.1, pp.77 - 96

Received: 09 Nov 2018
Accepted: 25 Mar 2019

Published online: 11 Jan 2022 *

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