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Exploring the internationalisation process of small and medium sized enterprises: a strong structuration perspective
Kennedy, Aileen
Exploring the Internationalisation Process of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises: A Strong Structuration Perspective Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly active in international markets and it is important to understand their processes of internationalisation. Extant studies explain the firms’ internationalisation process in terms of dualist and dichotomous thinking, with researchers implicitly emphasising either structural (environmental) or agential (managerial) dimensions. Such approaches exclude the interplay and interaction between structure and agency from their analysis yet knowledge of this relationship is seen as crucial to fully understanding the process of firm internationalisation (Dutta et al., 2016; Sydow et al., 2010). To overcome the structure-agency divide evident within extant research this study adopts the duality of structure approach and a structuration perspective to research firm internationalisation. It conceptualises the firms’ internationalisation process as a reciprocal relationship between structure (contextual and environmental factors) and agency (the individual manager) that operates as a duality, as two intertwined and interdependent elements. Strong structuration theory (Stones, 2005), a strengthened and refined version of Giddens’ structuration theory (1984), is applied as the theoretical framework to analyse the internationalisation process in six case studies of Irish SMEs. The case analyses illustrate the role and influence of internal structures (within the agent) and external structures, as well as managerial practices (active agency) on the internationalisation activities and outcomes of the firm. These are the four components of the quadripartite framework (Stones, 2005). The analyses provide a richly contextualised explanation of how and why the internationalisation process occurs within these firms. Adopting a structuration perspective and embracing the duality of structure contributes to internationalisation research by extending the theoretical explanation of firm internationalisation to include multiple inputs into, as well as multiple outcomes from, the process. A structuration perspective also accounts for the recursive processes and patterns of internationalisation by incorporating both structure and agency into the explanation of firm internationalisation. A further contribution to existing theories of internationalisation is the introduction of the role of soft power within the internationalisation process. This research addresses calls for increased process studies within the international field while also extending strong structuration theory into a new context, that of firm internationalisation. Positioned at the intersection of sociology and internationalisation literatures, this research contributes to scholarship by demonstrating the value of interdisciplinary research in advancing knowledge of firm processes.
Keyword(s): Internationalization; Structuration theory; Strong Structuration theory; SMEs; Ireland
Publication Date:
Type: Other
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Contributor(s): O'Gorman, Colm
Institution: Dublin City University
Citation(s): Kennedy, Aileen (2018) Exploring the internationalisation process of small and medium sized enterprises: a strong structuration perspective. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
Publisher(s): Dublin City University. DCU Business School
File Format(s): application/pdf
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First Indexed: 2018-05-15 06:05:30 Last Updated: 2019-02-09 06:11:38