Danish SMEs in the global arena: cultural differences as learning potential
by Martine Cardel Gertsen
European J. of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management (EJCCM), Vol. 2, No. 2, 2012

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.

Online publication date: Tue, 29-Jul-2014

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