International orientation of small and medium-sized businesses towards Eastern Europe - processes and locational effects for SMEs from Lower Saxony

The political and economic transformation and market opening in Central Eastern Europe (CEE) at the beginning of the 1990s as well as the EU enlargement gave reason for Western European firms in general and Western European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular to increase their activities in these countries. The objective of the study is to explore patterns concerning their market entries, market development, barriers encountered and the potential locational effects of business activities in CEE. The study is based on cases studies in SMEs located in the Federal State of Lower Saxony, which have already entered CEE markets. As theoretical background we use two established models of the internationalization of SMEs, i.e., the process or stage model, and the network approach to internationalization. Our findings suggest, however, that the basic contentions made by these models on the internationalization path of SMEs should be complemented with a broader perspective that takes into consideration a variety of additional factors. As a general tendency, we find nonetheless evidence that the intensity of market entry barriers in CEE has decreased since and, obviously, due to EU enlargement.

Leick, B.; Leßmann, G.; Nussbaum, J. (2012): Internationalisierungspfade mittelständischer Unternehmen in Osteuropa - Internationalisierungsprozess und Standorteffekte am Beispiel niedersächsischer KMU, in: Institut für Mittelstandsforschung Bonn (Hrsg.): IfM-Materialien Nr. 218, Bonn.

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