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Paper info: Social networks in the initiation of the high tech firm's internationalisation


Social networks in the initiation of the high tech firm's internationalisation


Hanna Komulainen
University of Oulu
Hanna Komulainen ,
Jaana Tähtinen
Turku School of Economics and Business Administration
Jaana Tähtinen and Tuija Mainela

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 20th IMP-conference in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2004.


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Entering foreign markets is often seen to be a big challenge for small firms due to the small amount of resources available for internationalisation. However, through interpersonal networks,firms can gain access to, as well as, mobilise external resources to aid the initiation of internationalisation. Thus, to understand small firm's internationalisation, knowledge of the factors influencing the internationalisation and an analysis at the social relationship level isneeded. The present study is concerned with the initiation of the internationalisation of small high-technology firms. It concentrates in particular, on social networks and their influence oninternationalisation. The paper develops an empirically grounded framework for understanding the roles that a social network can play in the initiation of small firm internationalisation. The framework acknowledges the roles of personal relationships as sources of critical information about foreign business opportunities and potential international business partners. Moreover, social relationships are important door-openers for international relationships. This study contributes to the existing research by bringing forward the very active role that the interpersonal network can play as a mediator in the initiation of small firm's internationalisation. The mediation can provide the small firm publicity, contacts, and legitimacy resulting in first international contacts and development of international business relationships.