A multidimensional perspective of SME internationalization speed: The influence of entrepreneurial characteristics

Linda Hsieh, John Child*, Rose Narooz, Said Elbanna, Joanna Karmowska, Svetla Marinova, Pushyarag Puthusserry, Terence Tsai, Yunlu Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


This paper contributes to a multidimensional perspective on the speed of SME internationalization. It examines the influence of entrepreneurial characteristics – experience, rationales and innovation strategies – on multiple dimensions of internationalization speed. Findings from a sample of 180 SMEs show that earliness, speed of deepening, and speed of geographic diversification can be viewed as three different strategic alternatives and that each dimension is predicted by a different set of entrepreneurial antecedents. Earliness of internationalization is associated with entrepreneurs’ international business experience and their perception of opportunities abroad as well as preference for an innovation strategy characterized by ambidextrous innovation. Speed of deepening is related to entrepreneurs’ international business experience, their orientation towards differentiation vis-à-vis competitors, and commitment to innovation and a strategy focusing on exploration. These results indicate the importance of distinguishing between different forms of innovation. Speed of geographic diversification is predicted only by entrepreneurs’ orientation towards differentiation vis-à-vis competitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-283
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Business Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Earliness
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Internationalization
  • SMEs
  • Speed of deepening
  • Speed of geographic diversification


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