Title: Danish SMEs in the global arena: cultural differences as learning potential

Authors: Martine Cardel Gertsen

Addresses: Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Porcelænshaven 18A, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Abstract: This article explores how SMEs interact cross-culturally, a hitherto underdeveloped aspect of SME research. It reports from a qualitative study based on in-depth interviews with founders or key managers representing ten born global SMEs of Danish origin, all active in Asia. It is found that although formalised cross-cultural preparation is rare, the multicultural backgrounds of interviewees have contributed to their mental readiness for cross-cultural interaction. SMEs with resource intensive activities tend to promote their own practices more than exporters who are more willing to adapt unconditionally. But overwhelmingly, interviewees describe cross-cultural collaboration in Asia as unproblematic. Interviewees point to cultural differences as a source of learning regarding, e.g., work habits, harmonious communication and market specific knowledge. The flexibility and relatively small power differences in their organisations promote cross-cultural learning, and knowledge of cultural differences often constitute business opportunities at both ends of the SMEs' value-added chains.

Keywords: SMEs; small and medium-sized enterprises; born globals; cross-cultural learning; knowledge sharing; cross-cultural interaction; cultural differences; cross-cultural communication; adaptation; Asia; Denmark; value-added.

DOI: 10.1504/EJCCM.2012.047077

European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, 2012 Vol.2 No.2, pp.101 - 116

Received: 29 Mar 2011
Accepted: 24 Aug 2011

Published online: 29 Jul 2014 *

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