Frontpage  About
Paper info: SME Internationalization: An Critical Review of Non-Traditional Approaches


SME Internationalization: An Critical Review of Non-Traditional Approaches


Michel Rod, Alia El Banna and Adil Munim

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 32nd IMP-conference in Poznan, Poland in 2016.


Download paper
(274.8 kb)


Improvisation, Bricolage, and Effectuation are examples of sense-making techniques often seen in the field of entrepreneurship. Original literature introduces these ideas with respect to decisionmaking problems faced by entrepreneurs. Most often, these are problems that deal with resource (land, labor, capital) sourcing, creation, development, and/or allocation. However, in the last few decades, new literature has surfaced that underlines the implications of these sense-making concepts for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-enterprises. In particular, this literature discusses these ideas within the context of internationalization. Research indicates that SMEs and micro-enterprises can operate in an entrepreneurial manner, especially when making decisions. Several case studies indicate that when faced with decision-making problems, especially during foreign market selection (FMS) and foreign market entry (FME), SMEs and microenterprises employ the above sense-making tactics. The study of improvisation, bricolage, and effectuation within the context of internationalization is a relatively new field of research. As a result, the focus of this work-in-progress paper is to be as inclusive as possible in critically reviewing the literature pertaining to the subject. This will ensure that gaps can be identified and future areas of research can be determined. Presently, there is no comprehensive summary of the literature concerning improvisation, bricolage, and effectuation within the context of SME and micro-enterprise internationalization. The proposed paper aims to address this problem by providing a succinct overview of the literature in this field. Through thorough analysis of published scholarly/peer-reviewed papers, key themes in the literature will be identified. Concurrently, the study will determine the ‘gap’ areas in the field where more research is required. Thus, by providing a concise summary of the field and identifying gaps in the current literature, the paper will assume a critical review of the literature regarding SME and micro-enterprise sense-making and cognition in the internationalization context. This work-in-progress paper will focus on three key concepts: improvisation, bricolage, and effectuation. Though these concepts are predominantly discussed within the context of entrepreneurship, they have several implications for SMEs and micro-enterprises. This is largely because SMEs and micro-enterprises can often adopt an entrepreneurial orientation (Etemad & Wright, 2003). In these situations, the process of internationalization does not follow the linear, controlled, or timely pattern that is typically seen with large firms (Etemad & Wright, 2003). SMEs and micro-enterprises therefore rely on sense-making tactics such as improvisation, bricolage, and effectuation to guide them through the internationalization process. A critical initial review of the literature will illustrate the impact of these sense-making tactics for internationalizing SMEs and micro-enterprises.