The role of management characteristics in the internationalisation of SMEs: Evidence from the UK retail sector

Karise Hutchinson, Barry Quinn, Nicholas Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


PurposeThis paper specifically explores the role of management characteristics in the international development of SMEs. MethodologySince the intention of this study was to build theory from an unexplored area of research, a multiple case approach was deemed most appropriate. In doing so, this paper responds to recent calls in the literature for in-depth case research (e.g. Westhead et al. 2002; Doherty, 2003). FindingsThis paper highlights the importance of objective and subjective characteristics as factors which impact not only the initial decision to expand and the support of overseas operations, but the subsequent path and pace of international development. Research implications and limitationsWhile this paper confirms the pivotal role of the owner manager in the international decision-making of retail SMEs, it is recommended that future research examines the role of management characteristics in SMEs based in other industries. Practical implicationsThe findings from this empirical study have important implications for both managers of SMEs and private and public sector organisations, and these recommendations are discussed in the conclusions of this paper. Originality While the effect of management decisions upon the internationalisation of SMEs is at a relatively developed stage in the literature, one of the less studied aspects is the role of decision-maker characteristics. Given the manufacturing focus of research contributions in the field, this paper yields new insights into SME foreign development and the role of management in the context of the retail sector and the broader service industry. KeywordsManagement, SMEs, Internationalisation, Retail industry, Case study
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-534
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2006


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