New Study Approaches for International Entrepreneurship

The study of global entrepreneurs goes beyond the traditional internationalization of start-ups and SMEs

Nuevos enfoques de estudio para el emprendimiento internacional

The disruption of supply chains by the COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for firms to reach their international customers, increasing the cost of production, distribution, and marketing around the world. Today, the instability of global financial markets and geopolitical conflicts make us rethink globalization as we had understood it until not so long ago. This is the context of international entrepreneurship (IE), a field of study that goes beyond the traditional internationalization of SMEs.

The book A Research Agenda for International Entrepreneurship includes a chapter I co-wrote with Christian Felzensztein (Clarkson University), in which we explore the new directions of this field of study. Given the profound changes that have affected the dynamics of international business–the COVID-19 pandemic, technological advances such as virtual reality, geopolitical events, etc.–a new comprehensive understanding of international entrepreneurship is required. 

IE is a multidimensional phenomenon that occurs at different interrelated levels, including: the entrepreneur, the founding team, the venture itself, the markets (countries) with their particular cultural and institutional context, and the macroeconomic situation. The multi-dimensional character of the field led to a fragmentation of studies which is why a redefinition of the research agenda for this field is needed. 

To address this gap, we propose a research agenda for IE that addresses nine key topics:

  • Types of international ventures: It is important to understand the different types of enterprises involved in internationalization, including global start-ups and global emerging companies, and to explore how they differ in their approaches and strategies.
  • Evolution of the internationalizing ventures: This area focuses on studying how new ventures develop and evolve in international markets over time, examining the factors that influence their growth path.
  • Post-internationalization development: Although much of the research focuses on the pre-internationalization phase, this area explores the processes and challenges faced by new ventures after entering international markets, including scaling and sustained growth.
  • Learning and knowledge creation for internationalization: It is important to examine how entrepreneurs acquire and apply knowledge to navigate international markets, including the role of organizational learning and capability development.
  • The role of networks for internationalization: Another relevant area of research consists of business networks that facilitate internationalization, particularly for SMEs, and understanding how these networks contribute to international success.
  • Interaction and interdependence in internationalization: This point addresses the exploration of the dynamic relationships between ventures, governments, legislators and other stakeholders, and how these interactions shape internationalization strategies.
  • Relevance of digital technologies in internationalization: Priority is given to analyzing the impact of digital technologies on international entrepreneurship, including their role in building business models, marketing strategies, and market expansion.
  • Internationalizing new ventures from emerging markets: The unique challenges and opportunities faced by firms from emerging economies as they expand internationally are considered, while exploring the role of institutions and contextual factors.
  • The contribution of internationalizing new ventures for solving social and environmental issues: This investigates how international entrepreneurship can address pressing social and environmental issues, including the role of sustainable entrepreneurship and government support.

Therefore, this chapter contributes to providing detailed information on each area, based on existing literature and empirical research. We stress the interconnection of these topics and suggest further interdisciplinary research to advance our understanding of international entrepreneurship today. Furthermore, we call on researchers in the field of IE to consider sustainability and resilience in entrepreneurship initiatives, particularly when tackling global challenges.

The author is research professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at EGADE Business School.

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