Advancing Entrepreneurial Boundaries:
a Critical Reflection on Understanding and Supporting
the Internationalisation of SMEs
This paper will undertake a critical review of a number of assumptions underpinning current thinking on understanding and supporting the internationalisation of the small and medium sized enterprise. The past twenty years has seen an explosion in academic research in the area of internationalisation, which has resulted in a considerable body of academic thinking. Rather than increasing our ‘knowledge’ as to how the world works, this mass of activity has simply served to increase confusion and our lack of understanding of how SMEs internationalise and how to enhance the effectiveness of current forms of business support.
A number of mythical concepts and misconceptions have emerged upon which a number of policy and support assumptions have been developed. The paper will address the reasons behind this mismatch through providing a number of critical insights in the area of internationalisation in SMEs. In so doing, the paper will address the following questions:
• What do we know about the process of internationalisation and the SME?
• What are the key areas of ‘need to know’?
• What are the implications for academics, practitioners and policy makers?
Through the use of a number of case studies from the North East and the Eastern Region of England, the paper will present a thought provoking and challenging discussion which will move the debate forward in this critical area of entrepreneurship and policy.