Title: The internationalisation process of small- and medium-sized firms and the liability of complexity

Authors: Antonella Zucchella; Per Servais

Addresses: Dipartimento di Ricerche Aziendali, University of Pavia, Via s. Felice 7, 27100, Pavia, Italy. ' Department of Marketing and Management, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark

Abstract: This contribution focuses on the process related to the decision of entry into a complex market, as a relevant expression of international entrepreneurial attitude from a small firm. The construct of market complexity has rarely been adopted and explored in the international business literature, even though it may represent a useful complement in the market foreignness theory, in order to reach a deeper understanding of the liability of foreignness. Market complexity encompasses psychic distance, institutional distance, cultural distance and additionally includes the foreign market heterogeneity and volatility, competitive conditions and channels to access to market opportunities (distribution channels, business networks). An empirical research based on six case studies highlights the different dimensions of the liability of complexity, its subjective and objective nature, the influence on entry modes selection and the impact on the firms' knowledge base after the entry into a complex market.

Keywords: complex markets; liability; complexity; entrepreneurial attitudes; market foreignness; psychic distance; institutional distance; cultural distance; foreign markets; market heterogeneity; market volatility; competitive conditions; access channels; market opportunities; distribution channels; business networks; subjective nature; objective nature; entry modes; knowledge base; Italy; Denmark; Kenda Farben; chemical products; shoes; footwear; leather; sterilisers; pharmaceutical industry; Fedegari Autoclavi; Calzaturificio Moreschi; Gasa Young Plants; horticultural products; horticulture; Juliana; greenhouses; conservatories; urban furniture; street furniture; Vekso; small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; entrepreneurs; international entrepreneurship; internationalisation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2012.045204

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2012 Vol.15 No.2, pp.191 - 212

Available online: 31 Jan 2012 *

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