The Impact of Social Networks on “Born Globals”: A Case of De-Internationalisation

The Impact of Social Networks on “Born Globals”: A Case of De-Internationalisation

Qingan Huang (University of East London, UK), Ellis L. C. Osabutey (Middlesex University, UK), Junzhe Ji (Tongji University, China) and Liying Meng (The University of Northampton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8182-6.ch046
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This paper aims to explore the role and impact of entrepreneurs' social networks on the internationalisation of “Born Global” firms, in particular, its de-internationalisation process. The research is based on a case study approach and adopts a series of face to face and online qualitative longitudinal interviews. It provides some useful insights into the relationship management of “Born Global” entrepreneurs and unveils some negative impacts of social networks on the initiation of ‘de-internationalisation'. The study reveals the importance of online social networks, high-tech communications and contemporary management techniques for “Born Global” entrepreneurs.
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Many managers and entrepreneurs, particularly in “knowledge intensive” firms, are seeking international business growth in a more proactive manner than before (Bell et al., 2004, Child and Hsieh, 2014). More and more firms are engaging in international operations in the early days of their establishment (Oviatt and McDougall, 1994, Bell., 1995, Knight and Cavusgil, 1996, Jones, 1999, Knight, 2000), They are the so-called “Born Globals” (Rennie, 1993, Knight and Cavusgil, 1996), “Global Start-ups” (Oviatt and McDougall, 1994), or “International New Ventures” (McDougall et al., 1994).

Since Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) have limited resources and knowledge, and different managerial styles, the experience and knowledge gained from the study of large corporations cannot be directly adopted and utilized by their smaller counterparts (Calof and Beamish, 1995, Mejri and Umemoto, 2010); The main purpose of this research is to explore networking knowledge and experiences from “Born Global” entrepreneurs who are embedded in their social networks and relationships.

This paper examines the roles of social networks, one of the most important aspects of the internationalisation of SMEs(Styles et al., 2006). It investigates a “knowledge-intensive” rather than “traditional labour-intensive” firm. A small high-tech firm in the South East of England was selected because of the considerations of methods, time-scale, and resources.

The remainder of the chapter is structured as follow: Firstly, we review relevant literature, where we critically analyse the existing internationalisation theories and research activity in this field. Consequently, we develop the research problem. Secondly, we present the research objectives and research questions. Thirdly, we discuss the methodology. Fourthly, we analyse the data from the case company. We then move on to discuss the findings and, in the light of previous theories with the aim of constructing new frameworks for understanding the internationalisation of “Born Global” SMEs. Finally, we reflect on the importance as well as the limitations of this study and suggest an agenda for future research.

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