Exploring Determinants Of Internationalization Among Small And Medium Enterprises From An Emerging Markets:

A New Conceptual Lens

  • Najib Md Saad Universiti Teknologi MARA


The past two decades have seen a sharp increase in academic studies and public policy research concerned with the internationalization of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). From this perspective, it is the influence of organizational and environmental characteristics on the internationalization process that have been the focus of scholars. Nevertheless, little is yet known of the internationalization determinants of SMEs in developing countries, and a lack of conceptual evidence in the literature provides strong ground for this research. This study fills the void by documenting the relationships between organizational and environmental characteristics specifically, entrepreneurial orientation, global mindset, network relationships and government support and internationalization. The study is expected to make a valuable contribution to knowledge of SME internationalization in developing countries, especially in the context that relates internationalization to organizational and environmental characteristics. It also has implications in the form of best practices for Malaysian SMEs. Managers should be aware of the complexities of internationalization and the necessity to examine various aspects of SMEs' internationalization on a frequent basis. Skills, competencies, and management know-how are not only crucial traits for entrepreneurs to develop in order to succeed in internationalization, but they are also critical to a company's advantageous positioning in the global market. At the same time, it can provide directions for the government and policy-makers in their effort to develop policies and programs for the betterment of this particular business community.



Abdul-Aziz, A. R., & Wong, S. S. (2010). Exploring the internationalization of malaysian contractors: The international entrepreneurship dimension. Construction Management and Economics, 28(1), 51–61.
Abdullah, M. A. (1999). The accessibility of the government-sponsored support programmes for small and medium-sized enterprises in Penang. Cities, 16(2), 83–92.
Abdullah, N. A., & Zain, S. N. (2011). The Internationalization Theory and Malaysian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). International Journal of Trade, Economics and Finance, 2(4), 318–322.
Acs, Z. (2003). Toward New Horizons: The Internationalisation of Entrepreneurship. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 1(1), 5–12.
Acs, Z., Morck, R. K., & Yeung, B. (2001). Entrepreneurship, globalization, and public policy. Journal of International Management, 7(3), 235–251.
Akcay, O., Sun, Q., & Almerico, G. M. (2014). Political and economic impacts on Chinese students ’ return. Journal of International Business Studies, 33(2), 1–6.
Andersson, S. (2004). Internationalization in different industrial contexts. Journal of Business Venturing, 19(6), 851–875.
Antoncic, B., & Prodan, I. (2008). Alliances, corporate technological entrepreneurship and firm performance: Testing a model on manufacturing firms. Technovation, 28(5), 257–265.
Asgari, M., Ahmad, S. Z., & Gurrib, M. I. (2010). Explaining the Internationalization Process of Malaysian Service Firms. International Journal of Trade, Economics and Finance, 1(1), 68–73.
Axelsson, B., & Easton, G. (1992). Industrial networks: A new view of reality. Routledge, London.
Banalieva, E. R., & Sarathy, R. (2011). A Contingency Theory of Internationalization: Performance for Emerging Market Multinational Enterprises. Management International Review, 51(5), 593–634.
Bonaccorsi, A. (1992). On the relationship between firm size and export intensity. Journal of International Business Studies, 23(4), 605–635.
Buckley, P. J., & Tian, X. (2017). Internalization theory and the performance of emerging-market multinational enterprises. International Business Review, 26(5), 976–990.
Buttriss, G. J., & Wilkinson, I. F. (2006). Using narrative sequence methods to advance international entrepreneurship theory. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 4(4), 157–174.
Calabrese, G. G., & Manello, A. (2018). Firm internationalization and performance: Evidence for designing policies. Journal of Policy Modeling, 40(6), 1221–1242.
Callaway, S. K. (2004). Elements of infrastructure: Factors driving international entrepreneurship. New England Journal of Entrepreneurship, 7(1), 27–37.
Cavusgil, S. T., Yeniyurt, S., & Townsend, J. D. (2004). The framework of a global company: A conceptualization and preliminary validation. Industrial Marketing Management, 33(8), 711–716.
Chandra, Y., & Coviello, N. (2010). Broadening the concept of international entrepreneurship: “Consumers as International Entrepreneurs.” Journal of World Business, 45(3), 228–236.
Chelliah, S., Pandian, S., Sulaiman, M., & Munusamy, J. (2010). The moderating effect of firm size: Internationalization of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector. African Journal of Business Management, 4(14), 3096–3109.
Chen, S., & Tan, H. (2012). Region effects in the internationalization-performance relationship in Chinese firms. Journal of World Business, 47(1), 73–80.
Ciravegna, L., Kundu, S. K., Kuivalainen, O., & Lopez, L. E. (2019). The timing of internationalization – Drivers and outcomes. Journal of Business Research, 105(May 2017), 322–332.
Contractor, F. J., Kumar, V., & Kundu, S. K. (2007). Nature of the relationship between international expansion and performance: The case of emerging market firms. Journal of World Business, 42(4), 401–417.
Coombs, J. E., Sadrieh, F., & Annavarjula, M. (2009). Two decades of international entrepreneurship research: What have we learnedwhere do we go from here? International Journal of Entrepreneurship, 13(1), 23–64.
Coviello, N. E. (2006). The network dynamics of international new ventures. Journal of International Business Studies, 37(5), 713–731.
Coviello, N. E., & Cox, M. P. (2006). The resource dynamics of international new venture networks. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 4(2–3), 113–132.
Coviello, N. E., & Jones, M. V. (2004). Methodological issues in international entrepreneurship research. Journal of Business Venturing, 19(4), 485–508.
Coviello, N. E., McDougall, P. P., & Oviatt, B. M. (2011). The emergence, advance and future of international entrepreneurship research ? An introduction to the special forum. Journal of Business Venturing, 26(6), 625–631.
Coviello, N. E., Kano, L., & Liesch, P. W. (2017). Adapting the Uppsala model to a modern world: Macro-context and microfoundations. Journal of International Business Studies, 48(9), 1151–1164.
Coviello, N. E., & Munro, H. (1997). Network relationships and the internationalisation process of small software firms. International Business Review, 6(4), 361–386.
Covin, J. G., Green, K. M., & Slevin, D. P. (2006). Strategic process effects on the entrepreneurial orientations-sales growth rate relationship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 30(1), 57–81.
Covin, J. G., & Slevin, D. P. (1989). Strategic management of small firms in hostile and benign environments. Strategic Management Journal, 10(1), 75–87.
Dana, L. P. (2021). An Integrative Conceptual Model. Global Marketing Co-Operation and Networks, July 2013, 29–48.
Di Gregorio, D. (2005). Re-thinking country risk: Insights from entrepreneurship theory. International Business Review, 14(2), 209–226.
Dimitratos, P., Voudouris, I., Plakoyiannaki, E., & Nakos, G. (2012). International entrepreneurial culture-Toward a comprehensive opportunity-based operationalization of international entrepreneurship. International Business Review, 21(4), 708–721.
Douhan, R., & Henrekson, M. (2011). The Political Economy of Entrepreneurship: An Introduction. SSRN Electronic Journal.
Dutz, M. A., Ordover, J. A., & Willig, R. D. (2000). Entrepreneurship, access policy and economic development: Lessons from industrial organization. European Economic Review, 44(4–6), 739–747.
Etemad, H., Madsen, T., Rasmussen, E., & Servais, P. (2014). International Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies. Current Issues in International Entrepreneurship, September, 113–114.
Falahat, M., Ramayah, T., Soto-Acosta, P., & Lee, Y. Y. (2020). SMEs internationalization: The role of product innovation, market intelligence, pricing and marketing communication capabilities as drivers of SMEs’ international performance. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 152(June 2019).
Fernhaber, S. A., Gilbert, B. A., & McDougall, P. P. (2008). International entrepreneurship and geographic location: An empirical examination of new venture internationalization. Journal of International Business Studies, 39(2), 267–290.
Ferreira, J. J., Azevedo, S. G., & Ortiz, R. F. (2011). Contribution of resource-based view and entrepreneurial orientation on small firm growth. Cuadernos de Gestion, 11(1), 95–116.
Fink, M., Harms, R., & Kraus, S. (2008). Cooperative internationalization of SMEs: Self-commitment as a success factor for International Entrepreneurship. European Management Journal, 26(6), 429–440.
Fletcher, D. (2004). International entrepreneurship and the small business. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 16(4), 289–305.
Freeman, S., Hutchings, K., & Chetty, S. (2012). Born-Globals and Culturally Proximate Markets. Management International Review, 52(3), 425–460.
Gartner, W. B., Shaver, K. G., Gatewood, E., & Katz, J. A. (1994). Finding the entrepreneur in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Spring spe(5–9).
Gupta, A. K., & Govindarajan, V. (2002). Cultivating of global mindset. Academy of Management Executive, 16(1), 116–126.

Hangen, B., & Zucchella, A. (2014). a Longitudinal Look At the International Entrepreneurship Dimensions: Cases and Predictions. International Journal of Management Cases, 13(3), 484–504.
Hansen, J. D., Deitz, G. D., Tokman, M., Marino, L. D., & Weaver, K. M. (2011). Cross-national invariance of the entrepreneurial orientation scale. Journal of Business Venturing, 26(1), 61–78.
Harris, S., & Wheeler, C. (2005). Entrepreneurs’ relationships for internationalization: Functions, origins and strategies. International Business Review, 14(2), 187–207.
Hashim, J. (2015). Information communication technology (ICT) adoption among SME owners in Malaysia. International Journal of Business and Information, 2(2), 221–240.
Hemmert, M. (2004). The impact of internationalization on the technology sourcing performance of high-tech business units. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management - JET-M, 21(3), 149–174.
Hisrich, R. D., Honig-Haftel, S., Mcdougall, P. P., & Oviatt, B. M. (1996). Guest Editorial: International Entrepreneurship: Past, Present, and Future. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 20(4), 5–8.
Hsieh, L., Child, J., & Narooz, R. (2019). A multidimensional perspective of SME internationalization speed: The influence of entrepreneurial characteristics. International Business Review, 28(2), 268–283.
Ibeh, K. (2005). Toward a Greater Level of International Entrepreneurship among Smaller Agribusiness Firms: Resource Levers and Strategic Options. Management International Review, 45(3), 59–81.
Ibeh, K., & Kasem, L. (2011). The network perspective and the internationalization of small and medium sized software firms from Syria. Industrial Marketing Management, 40(3), 358–367.
Idris, A., & Saad, M. N. (2019). The Relative Effects of Entrepreneurial Characteristics and Government Support on the Internationalisation and Performance of Malaysian SMEs. The South East Asian Journal of Management, 13(1), 53–73.
Ishii, H. (2011). Developing Global Mindset Onboard. Challenges of the Ship for World Youth Program of Japan. Scale of Globalization: Think Globally, Act Locally, Change Individually in the 21St Century, 102–111.
Jiang, G., Kotabe, M., Zhang, F., Hao, A. W., Paul, J., & Wang, C. L. (2020). The determinants and performance of early internationalizing firms: A literature review and research agenda. International Business Review, 29(4).
Johanson, J., & Mattsson, L. G. (1993). Internationalization in industrial systems- A network approach, strategic in global competition. The Internationalization of the Firms: A Reader, Academic Press, London, 303–322.
Johanson, J., & Vahlne, J. E. (1990). The mechanism of internationalization. International Marketing Review, 7(4), 11–24.
Jones, M. V., Coviello, N., & Tang, Y. K. (2011). International Entrepreneurship research (1989-2009): A domain ontology and thematic analysis. Journal of Business Venturing, 26(6), 632–659.
Kabongo, J. D., & Okpara, J. O. (2019). Timing and speed of internationalization: Evidence from African banks. Journal of Business Research, 102(March), 12–20.
Kamakura, W. A., Ramón-Jerónimo, M. A., & Gravel, J. D. (2012). A dynamic perspective to the internationalization of small-medium enterprises. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 40(2), 236–251.
Kang, K. N., & Park, H. (2012). Influence of government R&D support and inter-firm collaborations on innovation in Korean biotechnology SMEs. Technovation, 32(1), 68–78.
Kiss, A. N., Danis, W. M., & Cavusgil, S. T. (2012). International entrepreneurship research in emerging economies: A critical review and research agenda. Journal of Business Venturing, 27(2), 266–290.
Kontinen, T., & Ojala, A. (2011). International Opportunity Recognition among. Journal of Small Business Management, 49(3), 490–514.
Korsakiene, R., & Tvaronavičiene, M. (2012). The internationalization of SMEs: An integrative approach. Journal of Business Economics and Management, 13(2), 294–307.
Kunday, Ö., & Şengüler, E. P. (2015). A Study on Factors Affecting the Internationalization Process of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 195, 972–981.

Levy, O., Beechler, S., Taylor, S., & Boyacigiller, N. A. (2007). What we talk about when we talk about “global mindset”: Managerial cognition in multinational corporations. Journal of International Business Studies, 38(2), 231–258.
Lin, W. T., Liu, Y., & Cheng, K. Y. (2011). The internationalization and performance of a firm: Moderating effect of a firm’s behavior. Journal of International Management, 17(1), 83–95.
Lu, J. W., & Beamish, P. W. (2006). SME internationalization and performance: Growth vs. profitability. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 4(1), 27–48.
Lumpkin, G. T., Steier, L., & Wright, M. (2011). In Family Business Business and Strategic. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 306, 285–306.
Majumdar, S. K., Vora, D., & Nag, A. K. (2010). Industry structure characteristics and international entrepreneurship in India’s software industry. Journal of Entrepreneurship, 19(2), 109–136.
Matlay, H., Ruzzier, M., Hisrich, R. D., & Antoncic, B. (2006). SME internationalization research: Past, present, and future. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 13(4), 476–497.
McDougall, P. P. and Oviatt, B. M. (2000). International Entrepreneurship: The Intersection of Two Research Paths. The Academy of Management Journal, 43(5), 902–906.
McDougall, P.P., Shane, S., & Oviatt, B. M. (1994). Explaining the formation on international new ventures: The limits of theories from international business research. Journal of Business Venturing, 9(6), 469–487.
McDougall, P. P., & Oviatt, B. M. (1996). New venture internationalization, strategic change, and performance: A follow-up study. Journal of Business Venturing, 11(1), 23–40.
Miller, D., & Friesen, P. H. (1983). Innovation in conservative and entrepreneurial firms: Two models of strategic momentum. Strategic Management Journal, 3(1), 1–25.
Mort, G. S., & Weerawardena, J. (2006). Networking capability and international entrepreneurship: How networks function in Australian born global firms. International Marketing Review, 23(5), 549–572.
Mtigwe, B. (2006). Theoretical milestones in international business: The journey to international entrepreneurship theory. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 4(1), 5–25.
Nik Abdullah, N. A., & Mohd Zain, S. N. (2011). The Internationalisation of Malaysian SMEs. International Conference on Sociality & Economics Development IPEDR, 10, 178–182.
Nummela, N., & Welch, C. (2006). Qualitative research methods in international entrepreneurship: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 4(4), 133–136.
Ojala, A. (2009). Internationalization of knowledge-intensive SMEs: The role of network relationships in the entry to a psychically distant market. International Business Review, 18(1), 50–59.
Okhomina, D. (2010). Entrepreneurial orientation and psychological traits : the moderating influence of supportive environment. Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, 3, 1–16.
Oviatt, B. M., & McDougall, P. P. (2005). The internationalization of entrepreneurship. Journal of International Business Studies, 36(1), 2–8.
Palich, L. E., Carini, G. R., & Seaman, S. L. (2000). The impact of internationalization on the diversification-performance relationship: A replication and extension of prior research. Journal of Business Research, 48(1), 43–54.
Pangarkar, N. (2008). Internationalization and performance of small- and medium-sized enterprises. Journal of World Business, 43(4), 475–485.
Paul, J. (2020). SCOPE framework for SMEs: A new theoretical lens for success and internationalization. European Management Journal, 38(2), 219–230.
Perlmutter, H. V. (1969). The tortuous evolution of the multinational corporation. Columbia Journal of World Business, 1(1), 9–18.
Pina e Cunha, M. (2005). Adopting or adapting? The tension between local and international mindsets in Portuguese management. Journal of World Business, 40(2), 188–202.
Prange, C., & Verdier, S. (2011). Dynamic capabilities, internationalization processes and performance. Journal of World Business, 46(1), 126–133.
Reuber, A. R., & Fischer, E. (2011). International entrepreneurship in internet-enabled markets. Journal of Business Venturing, 26(6), 660–679.
Rhinesmith, S. H. (1992). Global mindsets for global managers. In Training & Development (Vol. 46, Issue 10, pp. 63–68).
Ripollés-Meliá, M., Menguzzato-Boulard, M., & Sánchez-Peinado, L. (2007). Entrepreneurial orientation and international commitment. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 5(3–4), 65–83.
Roudini, A., & Osman, M. H. (2012). The Role of International Entrepreneurship Capability on International Performance in Born Global Firms. IBusiness, 04(02), 126–135.
Runyan, R., Droge, C., & Swinney, J. L. (2008). Business Orientation : What Are Their Relationships to Firm Performance ? Journal of Small Business Management, 46(4), 567–588.
Saad, M. N. (2014). Determinants of Internationalization and Performance of Small and Medium Enterprises in Malaysia. University of Malaya.
Saarenketo, S., Puumalainen, K., Kyläheiko, K., & Kuivalainen, O. (2008). Linking knowledge and internationalization in small and medium-sized enterprises in the ICT sector. Technovation, 28(9), 591–601.
Scarborough, N. M., Idris, A., Che-Ha, N., & Saad, M. N. (2012). Entrepreneurship and Sme Development. Perspectives from Malaysia. Pearson Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Malaysia.
Schmid, M. A., Price, L. G., & McCallum, S. Y. (2010). Going Global: a Look At Corporate Citizenship. Journal of Business, Society & Government, 2(1), 16–28.
Senik, Z. C., Isa, R. M., Scott-Ladd, B., & Entrekin, L. (2010). Influential factors for SME internationalization: Evidence from Malaysia. International Journal of Economics and Management, 4(2), 285–304.
Shamsuddoha, A. K., Ali, M. Y., & Ndubisi, N. O. (2009). Impact of government export assistance on internationalization of SMEs from developing nations. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 22(4), 408–422.
Sinkovics, R. R., & Bell, J. D. (2005). Current perspectives on international entrepreneurship and the Internet. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 3(4), 247–249.
Smallbone, D., & Welter, F. (2001). The Role of Government in SME Development in Transition Economies. International Small Business Journal, 19(4), 63–77.
Soininen, J., Martikainen, M., Puumalainen, K., & Kyläheiko, K. (2012). Entrepreneurial orientation: Growth and profitability of finnish small- and medium-sized enterprises. International Journal of Production Economics, 140(2), 614–621.
Solano Acosta, A., Herrero Crespo, Á., & Collado Agudo, J. (2018). Effect of market orientation, network capability and entrepreneurial orientation on international performance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). International Business Review, 27(6), 1128–1140.
Sommer, L. P., & Haug, M. (2011). Smes’ Attitude Towards Cooperative Arrangements - a Comparison Between Asia and Europe: Empirical Results From the European Union and Malaysia. Ekonomska Istrazivanja, 24(1), 493–509.
Spence, M., & Crick, D. (2006). A comparative investigation into the internationalisation of Canadian and UK high-tech SMEs. International Marketing Review, 23(5), 524–548.
Spence, M. M., Manning, L. M., & Crick, D. (2008). An investigation into the use of collaborative ventures in the internationalization of high performing Canadian SMEs. European Management Journal, 26(6), 412–428.
Spencer, J. W., & Gómez, C. (2004). The relationship among national institutional structures, economic factors, and domestic entrepreneurial activity: A multicountry study. Journal of Business Research, 57(10), 1098–1107.
Story, J. S. P., & Barbuto, J. E. (2011). Global mindset: A construct clarification and framework. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 18(3), 377–384.
Sulaiman, M., Yusoff, Y. M., & Chelliah, S. (2010). Internationalization and performance: small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia. International Journal of Business and Management, 5(6), 27–37.
Sullivan, D. (2002). Managers, mindset, and globalization. In K. Beaman (Eds.) Boundaryless HR: Human capital management in the global economy. Austin, TH:IHRIM Press.
Szyliowicz, D., & Galvin, T. (2010). Applying broader strokes: Extending institutional perspectives and agendas for international entrepreneurship research. International Business Review, 19(4), 317–332.
Tahir, P. R., Mohamad, M. R., & Hasan, D. B. (2011). A Short Review of Factors Leading to Success of Small Medium Enterprises. Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, 2(11), 519–530.
Tambunan, T. (2008). SME development, economic growth, and government intervention in a developing country: The Indonesian story. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 6(4), 147–167.
Tang, Z., Kreiser, P. M., Marino, L., Dickson, P., & Weaver, K. M. (2009). A hierarchical perspective of the dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 5(2), 181–201.
Tuppura, A., Saarenketo, S., Puumalainen, K., Jantunen, A., & Kyläheiko, K. (2008). Linking knowledge, entry timing and internationalization strategy. International Business Review, 17(4), 473–487.
Ushakov, D. (2011). The Government Regulation of Economy Transformations in Terms of the Multinational Entrepreneurship Development and Technological Progress. Chinese Business Review, 10(10), 930–938.
Wiklund, J., & Shepherd, D. (2005). Entrepreneurial orientation and small business performance: A configurational approach. Journal of Business Venturing, 20(1), 71–91.
Zahoor, N., & Al-Tabbaa, O. (2021). Post-entry internationalization speed of SMEs: The role of relational mechanisms and foreign market knowledge. International Business Review, 30(1).
Zahra, S. A. (2005). A theory of international new ventures: A decade of research. Journal of International Business Studies, 36(1), 20–28.
Zahra, S. A. (2007). Contextualizing theory building in entrepreneurship research. Journal of Business Venturing, 22(3), 443–452.
Zahra, S. A., Korri, J. S., & Yu, J. F. (2005). Cognition and international entrepreneurship: Implications for research on international opportunity recognition and exploitation. International Business Review, 14(2), 129–146.
Zucchella, A. (2021). International entrepreneurship and the internationalization phenomenon: taking stock, looking ahead. International Business Review, 30(2).
How to Cite
SAAD, Najib Md. Exploring Determinants Of Internationalization Among Small And Medium Enterprises From An Emerging Markets:. INSIGHT Journal, [S.l.], sep. 2021. ISSN 2600-8564. Available at: <https://myjms.mohe.gov.my/index.php/insightjournal/article/view/14932>. Date accessed: 30 nov. 2021. doi: https://doi.org/10.24191/doi.org/10.24191/ij.v8i2.81.