Internationalisation of Central and Eastern European small firms: Institutions, resources and networks

M. Cristina Stoian, Alex Rialp, Josep Rialp, Robin Jarvis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the internationalisation of small firms from a Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) country with an emerging market economy, while accounting for the constantly changing institutional framework as well as resource (un)availability which may influence their involvement in foreign market operations. In doing so, it supports the applicability of the revised Uppsala internationalisation process model (2009), which highlights the key role of networks for international activity. Design/methodology/approach – This study is based on a qualitative approach leading to multiple case studies. The main source of data is semi-structured, in-depth interviews conducted within six small firms. Findings – The revisited Uppsala model proves to be generally valid for the small firms analysed in this study. Networks play a crucial role for knowledge creation and exchange, and frequently represent the most reliable resource at firms’ disposal. Trust is an indispensable ingredient that shapes network relationships. Institutional changes acted as push factors for small firms’ internationalisation. Research limitations/implications – Policy-makers and entrepreneurs should direct their efforts at encouraging international network building and the formation of partnerships. Specific policy-driven actions should facilitate the connection between (international) entrepreneurs and potential foreign business partners. Originality/value – This study brings insights to the revised Uppsala model, particularly considering the continuous and relatively rapid changes within the institutional environment that interact with the experiential learning curve and resource accumulation and subsequent commitment to foreign markets. Furthermore, it is one of the few studies that address the internationalisation of small firms from a CEE economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-121
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2016


  • Institutions
  • Internationalisation
  • Networks
  • Small firms


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