Rapid internationalisation among entrepreneurial firms in Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand: An extension to the network approach

Sharon Loane, James Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

300 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The importance of networks in the internationalisation of entrepreneurial firms is widely accepted. However, while the literature tends to focus on the existing networks of firms, there is growing evidence that many rapid internationalisers have to build new networks. This cross-national study investigates the networks of internationalising entrepreneurial firms in Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. Design/methodology/approach – A multi-stage approach and mixed methods were employed. Online sources were used to gather information on 218 internationalising small firms, then an e-mail instrument was administered to verify data and address information gaps, resulting in 143 usable responses (66 per cent) evenly distributed across locations. A representative sub-sample of 53 firms was selected for further in-depth investigation via face-to-face interviews with CEOs. Findings – A high proportion of firms (25 per cent) actively used existing networks to develop their knowledge of international markets and improve their international competitiveness. However, an even larger number (34 per cent) had to build new networks because of the advanced nature of their offering. In-depth interviews provided rich insights into the nature and scope of the firms' network development activities. Research limitations/implications – While the sample size is relatively small, the findings are consistent across locations. They suggest that further investigation of network building activities among internationalising entrepreneurial firms is required. Practical implications – The results have implications on firm strategy, in terms of the strategic nature of network building and the need for systematic approaches. They also are pertinent to public policy in support of internationalisation. In particular, there is a need for support agencies to shift their focus from providing objective knowledge to supporting experiential learning and network development. Originality/value – The linkage of extant network approaches to the emerging knowledge-based view (KBV) of internationalisation enhances and advances both perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-485
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2006


  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Entrepreneurialism
  • International business
  • Knowledge management
  • Networking


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