From export entry to de-internationalisation through entrepreneurial attributesby Esteban Lafuente, Maria-Cristina Stoian, Josep Rialp

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Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

From export entry to de-internationalisation through entrepreneurial attributes

Esteban Lafuente Maria-Cristina Stoian Josep Rialp

Article information:

To cite this document:

Esteban Lafuente Maria-Cristina Stoian Josep Rialp , (2015),"From export entry to deinternationalisation through entrepreneurial attributes", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise

Development, Vol. 22 Iss 1 pp. 21 - 37

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From export entry to de-internationalisation through entrepreneurial attributes

Esteban Lafuente

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Barcelona Tech), Barcelona, Spain

Maria-Cristina Stoian

Brunel Business School, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK, and

Josep Rialp

Department of Business Economics, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona,

Barcelona, Spain


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine export behaviour from a broad perspective considering the influence of entrepreneurial attributes on export entry, export sustainability and de-internationalisation in Romanian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Design/methodology/approach – Based on theoretical underpinnings from the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm and the Institutional Economics (IE) framework, the proposed hypotheses are tested with a rich survey data set of 319 Romanian SMEs. The data are analysed by means of a multinomial logit regression.

Findings – The study reveals that exporting is not a single event and that variables commonly used to study export propensity linked to the entrepreneurial attributes have a differential influence over the export decisions. More concretely, export entry is positively impacted by the presence of management studies and an entrepreneurial team while sustainment in the international arena is strongly and positively influenced by decision-makers’ prior labour experience. De-internationalisation is explained by the entrepreneurs’ fear of business failure. The conclusions of this study point towards a holistic view of export policy making revealing relevant implications for SMEs’ internationalisation.

Originality/value – This study enriches the international business literature by simultaneously examining different export decisions, namely export initiation, sustainability and de-internationalisation, at the SMEs’ level in a Central and Eastern European (CEE) emerging market. The paper also highlights the dynamic character of entrepreneurial resources and suggests that at distinct stages in the international development of a SME, different entrepreneurial attributes may play a significant role.

Keywords SMEs, De-internationalization, Entrepreneurial attributes, Export entry,

Export sustainability

Paper type Research paper 1. Introduction

This study analyses export behaviour from a comprehensive perspective by examining the entrepreneurial factors that influence international entry, sustainability and de-internationalisation of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The justification of this research is based on the growing interest of academics and policy-makers in SMEs’ international strategy and the potential benefits derived from internationalisation in terms of market competition, employment and technology Journal of Small Business andEnterprise Development

Vol. 22 No. 1, 2015 pp. 21-37 ©Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1462-6004

DOI 10.1108/JSBED-09-2012-0101

Received 4 September 2012

Revised 4 September 2012

Accepted 7 March 2013

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:

Esteban Lafuente acknowledges financial support provided by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (ECO No. 2010-21393-C04-01). 21

Entrepreneurial attributes

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T) implementation (European Commission, 2010, 2011; Manolova et al., 2010; Fletcher and