A cross-national study on the impact of management teams on the rapid internationalization of small firms


Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


While the importance of top management teams in the formation and development of new ventures is well recognised, their impact on the rapid internationalization of such firms remains relatively under-researched. This article presents the findings of a cross-national study conducted in Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand that demonstrate the significant impact that such teams have in creating the core internal capabilities and leveraging the external resources required for rapid and dedicated internationalization. The need to augment the management team in order to address key resource or knowledge gaps and/or to expand international networks is also evident among many firms, as is the impact of changes in team structures on business strategy and internationalization. Directions for future research and implications for public policy in support of rapidly internationalizing small firms are presented and discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-504
JournalJournal of World Business
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2007

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Aaby, N. E., & Slater, S. F. (1989). Management influences on export
performance: A review of the empirical literature 1978–88. International
Marketing Review, 6(4): 7–26.
Adler, P. S.,& Kwon, S.-W. (2002). Social capital: Prospects for a new
concept. Academy of Management Journal, 27(1): 17–40.
Amason, A. C., Shrader, R. C., & Tompson, G. H. (2006). Newness
and novelty: Relating top management team composition to new
venture performance. Journal of Business Venturing, 21(1): 125–
Ardichvili, A., Cardozo, R., & Ray, S. (2003). A theory of entrepreneurial
opportunity identification and development. Journal of
Business Venturing, 18(1): 105–123.
Arenius, P., & Autio, E. (2005). Social capital and new firm internationalization.
Paper presented at academy of international
Bachher, J., & Guild, P. (1996). Financing early stage technology
based companies: Investment criteria used by investors. Frontiers
of entrepreneurship. Accessed at: www.babson.edu/entrep/fer/
papers96/bachher/ (June 24, 2001).
Barkema, H. G., & Vermeulen, G. A. M. (1998). International
expansion through start-up or through acquisition; an organizational
learning perspective. Academy of Management Journal,
41(1): 7–27.
Barlett, C., & Ghosal, S. (1989). Managing across borders: The
transnational solution. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School
Barney, J. B. (2002). Gaining and sustaining competitive advantage
(2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bell, J., McNaughton, R., & Young, S. (2001). ‘‘Born-again global’’
firms—An extension to the ‘‘born global’’ phenomenon. Journal
of International Management, 7: 173–189.
Bell, J., McNaughton, R., Young, S., & Crick, D. (2003). Towards an
integrative model of small firm internationalization. Journal of
International Entrepreneurship, 1: 339–362.
Birley, S., & Stockley, S. (2000). Entrepreneurial teams and venture
growth. In D. L. Sexton & H. Landsto¨m (Eds.), The Blackwell
handbook of entrepreneurship (pp. 287–307). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Bloodgood, J. M., Sapienza, H., & Almeida, J. G. (1995). The
Internationalization of new high potential ventures: Antecedents
and outcomes. Frontiers of entrepreneurship research, Wellsley,
MA: Babson College for Entrepreneurial Studies. pp. 533–
Bonaccorsi, A. (1992). On the relationship between firm size and
export intensity. Journal of International Business Studies, 23(4):
Buckley, P. J. (1993). The role of management in internalisation
theory. Management International Review, 33(3): 197–207.
Carpenter, M. A., & Fredrickson, J. W. (2001). Top management
teams, global strategic posture, and the moderating role of uncertainty.
Academy of Management Journal, 44: 533–547.
Cavusgil, S. T. (1984). Differences among export firms based on their
degree of internationalization. Journal of Business Research, 12:
Cavusgil, T., & Das, A. (1997). Methodological issues in empirical
cross-cultural research: A survey of the management literature and
a framework. Management International Review, 71–97.
Chetty, S., & Campbell-Hunt, C. (2004). A strategic approach to
internationalization:A traditional versus a ‘born-global’ approach.
Journal of International Marketing, 12(1): 57–81.
Chetty, S., & Hamilton, R. T. (1993). Firm-level determinants of
export performance: A meta-analysis. International Marketing
Review, 10: 26–34.
Child, J. (1972). Organizational structure, environment and performance:
The role of strategic choice. Sociology, 1: 2–22.
Chowdhury, S. (2005). Demographic diversity for building an effective
entrepreneurial team: Is it important? Journal of Business
Venturing, 20(6): 727–746.
Cooper, A., & Dailey, C. (1997). Entrepreneurial teams. In D. L.
Sexton & R. W. Smilor (Eds.), Entrepreneurship 2000 (pp. 127–
150). Chicago: Upstart.
Coviello, N. E., & Jones, M. V. (2004). Methodological issues in
international entrepreneurship research. Journal of Business Venturing,
19(4): 485–508.
Coviello, N. E., & McAuley, A. (1999). Internationalization and the
smaller firm: A review of contemporary empirical research.
Management International Review, 39(3): 223–256.
Coviello, N. E., & Munro, H. (1997). Network relationships and the
internationalization process of small software firms. International
Business Review, 6(4): 361–386.
Cresswell, J.W. (1994). Research design: Qualitative and quantitative
approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Cresswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative enquiry and research design:
Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Cringley, R. X. (1992). Accidental Empires: How the boys of Silicon
Valley make their millions, battle foreign competition and still
can’t get a date. London: Viking.
Cyert, R. M., & March, J. G. (1963). A behavioural theory of the firm.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
De Meur, G., & Rihoux, B. (2002). L’Analyse Quali-Quantitative
Compare´e (AQQC-QCA). Approche, techniques et applications
en sciences humaines (35 pp). Academia-Bruylant, Louvain-laneuve.
Eisenhardt, K. M., & Schoonhoven, C. B. (1990). Organizational
growth: Linking founding team, strategy, environment, and growth
among U.S. semiconductor ventures, 1978–1988. Administrative
Science Quarterly, 35: 504–529.
Fahy, J. (2002). A resource-based analysis of sustainable competitive
advantage in a global environment. International Business Review,
11: 57–78.
Fillis, I. (2001). Small firm internationalisation: An investigative
survey and future research directions. Management Decisions,
39(9): 767–783.
Florin, J., Lubatkin, M., & Schulze,W. (2003). A social capital model
of high-growth ventures. Academy of Management Journal, 46(3):
Hall, J., & Hofer, C. W. (1993). Venture capitalists’ decision criteria
and new venture evaluation. Journal of Business Venturing, 8(1):
Hambrick, D. C. (1994). Top management groups: A conceptual
integration and reconsideration of the ‘team’ label. In L. L.
Cummings & B. M. Staw (Eds.), Research in organizational
behavior (pp. 171–214). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Hambrick, D. C., & Mason, P. A. (1984). Upper echelons: The
organisation as a reflection of its top managers. Academy of
Management Review, 9(2): 193–206.
Harveston, P. D., Kedia, B. L., & Davis, P. S. (2000). Internationalization
of born global and gradual globalizing firms: The impact
of the manager. Advances in Competitiveness Research, 8(1):
Harveston, P. D., Osborne, D., & Kedia, B. (2002). Examining the
mental models of entrepreneurs from born global and gradual
globalizing firms. Paper presented at the high technology small
firms conference.
Hewson, C., Yule, P., Laurent, D., & Vogel, K. (2002). Internet
research methods: A practical guide for the social and behavioural
sciences. London: Sage.
Huber, G. P., & Glick, W. H. (1993). Organizational change and
redesign: Ideas and insights for improving performance. New
York: Oxford University Press.
Hurmerinta-Peltoma¨ki, L., & Nummela, N. (2006). Mixed methods in
international business research: A value-added perspective. Management
International Review, 46: 4.
Hutchinson, K., Quinn, B., & Alexander, N. (2006). The role of
management characteristics in the internationalization of SMEs:
Evidence from the UK retail sector. Journal of Small Business and
Enterprise Development, 13(4): 513–534.
Inkpen, A. C., & Tsang, E.W. K. (2005). Social capital, networks, and
knowledge transfer. Academy of Management Review, 30(1): 146–
Jolly, V. K., Alahuthta, M., & Jeannet, J. P. (1992). Challenging the
incumbents: How high technology start-ups compete globally.
Journal of Strategic Change, 1: 71–82.
Jones, M. V. (1999). The internationalization of small high-technology
firms. Journal of International Marketing, 7(4): 15–41.
Kamm, J., Seeger, J., Shuman, N., & Nurick, A. (1990). Entrepreneurial
teams in new venture creation: A research agenda. Entrepreneurship
Theory and Practice, 14(4): 7–17.
Knight, G. (2000). Entrepreneurship and marketing strategy: The
SME under globalization. Journal of International Marketing,
8(2): 12–32.
Knight, G., & Cavusgil, S. T. (1996). The born global firm: A
challenge to traditional internationalization theory. Advances
in international marketing (8). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. pp.
Knight, G., & Cavusgil, S. T. (2004). Innovation, organizational
capabilities, and the born-global firm. Journal of International
Business Studies, 35: 124–141.
Knight, G. A., & Liesch, P. W. (2002). Information internalisation in
internationalising the firm. Journal of Business Research, 55(12):
Kuivalainen, O., Sundqvist, S., Puumalainen, K., & Cadogan, J. W.
(2004). The effect of environmental turbulence and leader characteristics
on international performance: Are knowledge-based
firms different? Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences,
21(1): 35–50.
Lee, C., Lee, K., & Pennings, J. M. (2001). Internal capabilities,
external networks, and performance: A study on technology-based
ventures. Strategic Management Journal, 22: 615–640.
Leonidou, L. C. (2004). An analysis of the barriers hindering small
business export development. Journal of Small Business Management,
42(3): 279–302.
Leonidou, L. C., & Katsikeas, C. S. (1996). The export development
process: An integrative review of empirical models. Journal of
International Business Studies, 27(3): 517–551.
Leonidou, L. C., Katsikeas, C. S., & Piercy, N. F. (1998). Identifying
managerial influences on exporting: Past research and future
directions. Journal of International Marketing, 6(2): 74–102.
Liesch, P.W.,Welch, L. S.,Welch, D., McGaughey, S. L., Petersen, B.,
& Lamb, P. (2002). Evolving strands of research on firm internationalization—
An Australian-Nordic perspective. International
Studies of Management and Organization, 32(1): 16–35.
Loane, S., McNaughton, R., & Bell, J. (2004). The Internationalization
trajectories of entrepreneurial internet start-ups: Evidence
S. Loane et al. / Journal of World Business 42 (2007) 489–504 503
from Europe and North America. Canadian Journal of Administrative
Science, 21(1): 1–18.
Lohrke, F. T., & Bruton, G. D. (1997). Contributions and gaps in
international strategic management literature. Journal of International
Management, 3: 25–57.
Madsen, T. K., & Servais, P. (1997). The internationalization of born
globals: An evolutionary process? International Business Review,
6: 561–583.
Marschan-Piekkari, R., & Welch, C. (2004). Handbook of qualitative
research methods for international business. Cheltenham: Edward
Elgar Publishing.
Marschan-Piekkari, R.,&Welch, C. (2006).Guest Editors’ introduction
to the focused issue: Qualitative research methods in international
business. Management International Review, 46(4): 391–396.
McDougall, P. P., Shane, S., & Oviatt, B. M. (1994). Explaining the
formation of international new ventures: The limits of theories
from international business research. Journal of Business Venturing,
9: 469–487.
McDougall, P. P., & Oviatt, B. M. (2000). International entrepreneurship;
the intersection of two research paths. Academy of Management
Journal, 43(5): 902–906.
McDougall, P. P., Oviatt, B. M., & Shrader, R. C. (2003). A comparison
of international and domestic new ventures. Journal of
International Entrepreneurship, 1(1): 59–82.
McKinsey & Co. (1993). Emerging exporters: Australia’s high valueadded
manufacturing exporters. Melbourne: Australian Manufacturing
McGuinness, K., & Short, T. (1998). Research on the Net. London:
Old Bailey Press.
Miesenbock, K. J. (1988). Small business and exporting: A literature
review. International Small Business Journal, 6(2): 42–61.
Miles, R. E.,& Snow, C. C. (1978). Organizational strategy, structure,
and process. McGraw-Hill: New York.
Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. (1998). Social capital, intellectual capital,
and the organizational advantage. Academy of Management
Review, 23(2): 242–266.
Oviatt, B. M., & McDougall, P. P. (2005). Defining international
entrepreneurship and modeling the speed of internationalization.
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 29(5): 537–554.
Oviatt, B., & McDougall, P. (1994). Toward a theory of international
new ventures. Journal of International Business Studies, 25(1):
Petersen, B., Pedersen, T., & Sharma, D. D. (2003). The role of
knowledge in firms’ internationalization process: Wherefrom and
whereto? In A. Blomstermo & D. D. Sharma (Eds.), Learning in
the internationalization process of firms (pp. 36–55). Cheltenham,
UK: Edward Elgar.
Petersen, B., Welch, L. S., & Liesch, P. W. (2002). The Internet and
foreign market expansion by firms. Management International
Review, 42(2): 207–221.
Ragin, C. (1987). The comparative method: Moving beyond the
qualitative and quantitative strategies. University of California
Ragin, C., & Zaret, D. (1983). Theory and method in comparative
research: Two strategies. Social Forces, 61: 731–754.
Reid, S. D. (1983). Managerial and firm influences on export behavior.
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 11(3): 323–332.
Reuber, A. R., & Fischer, E. (1997). The influence of the management
team’s international experience on the internationalization behaviours
of SMEs. Journal of International Business Studies, 28(4):
Reuber, A. R., & Fischer, E. (2002). Foreign sales and small firm
growth: The moderating role of the management team. Entrepreneurship
Theory and Practice, 27: 29–46.
Rihoux, B., De Meur, G., Yamasaki, S., & Ronsse, S. (2003). An
inventory of good QCA practice. http://smalln.spri.ucl.ac.be/
Didactics1GB.htm#1bis (accessed 12/9/2004).
Ronen, S., & Shenkar, O. (1985). Clustering countries on attitudinal
dimensions: A review and synthesis. Academy of Management
Review, 10: 435–454.
Sanders,W. G., & Carpenter, M. (1998). Internationalization and firm
governance: The roles of CEO compensation, top team composition,
and board structure. Academy of Management Journal, 41:
Saunders, M. N. K., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2003). Research
methods for business students (3rd ed.). Harlow: Financial Times
Prentice Hall.
Shane, S., & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The promise of entrepreneurship
as a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 25:
Shrader, R. C., Oviatt, B. M., & McDougall, P. P. (2000). How new
ventures exploit trade-offs among international risk factors: Lessons
for the accelerated internationalization of the 21st century.
Academy of Management Journal, 43: 1227–1247.
Sinkovics, R. R., Penz, E., & Ghauri, P. N. (2005). Analysing textual
data in international marketing research. Qualitative Marketing
Research: An International Journal, 8(1): 9–32.
Vyakarnam, S., & Handelberg, J. J. A (2005). Four themes of the
impact of management teams on organizational performance:
Implications for future research of entrepreneurial teams. International
Small Business Journal, 23(3): 236–256.
Watson, W. E., Ponthieu, L., & Critelli, J. W. (1995). Team interpersonal
process effectiveness in venture partnerships and its
connection to perceived success. Journal of Business Venturing,
10: 393–411.
Weerawardena, J., Mort, G. S., Liesch, P. W., & Knight, G. (2007).
Conceptualizing accelerated internationalization in the born global
firm: A dynamic capabilities perspective. Journal of World
Business, 42(3).
Welch, D. E., &Welch, L. S. (1996). The internationalization process
and networks: A strategic management perspective. Journal of
International Marketing, 4(3): 11–28.
Yli-Renko, H., Autio, E., & Sapienza, H. (2001). Social capital,
knowledge acquisition, and knowledge exploitation in young
technology-based firms. Strategic Management Journal, 22(6–
7): 587–613.
Zahra, S. A., & George, G. (2002). International entrepreneurship:
Research contributions and future directions. In M. A. Hitt, R. D.
Ireland, S. M. Camp, & D. L. Sexton (Eds.), Strategic entrepreneurship:
Creating a new mindset (pp. 255–288). Oxford: Blackwell
Zou, S., & Stan, S. (1998). The determinants of export performance; a
review of the empirical literature between 1987 and 1997. International
Marketing Review, 15(5): 333–353.


  • Small firm
  • Rapid internationalization
  • Management teams


Dive into the research topics of 'A cross-national study on the impact of management teams on the rapid internationalization of small firms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this