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Journal cover: Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Online from: 1994

Subject Area: Enterprise and Innovation

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An investigation into the initial barriers to internationalization: Evidence from small UK retailers


Document Information:
Title:An investigation into the initial barriers to internationalization: Evidence from small UK retailers
Author(s):Karise Hutchinson, (School of Business, Retail and Financial Services, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK), Emma Fleck, (School of Business, Retail and Financial Services, University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK), Lester Lloyd-Reason, (Centre for International Business Research and Development, Ashcroft International Business School, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK)
Citation:Karise Hutchinson, Emma Fleck, Lester Lloyd-Reason, (2009) "An investigation into the initial barriers to internationalization: Evidence from small UK retailers", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 16 Iss: 4, pp.544 - 568
Keywords:International business, Public administration, Retailers, Small to medium-sized enterprises, Trade barriers, United Kingdom
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/14626000911000910 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors would like to acknowledge “The British Academy” who assisted in funding this research project.
Abstract:

Purpose – This paper is the result of empirical research funded by The British Academy. The overall purpose of the study is to investigate the initial barriers to internationalization experienced and perceived by small retailers based in the UK and the role of government support in addressing such obstacles.

Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative, multiple case research design is adopted. This involves semi-structured in-depth interviews with the senior manager/decision-maker in six retail SMEs based in the UK and the analysis of company documentation and information from a range of secondary sources.

Findings – The findings from the case study data highlight internal and external barriers to internationalization relating to management: lack of vision, fear of losing control, lack of knowledge; the company: transfer of retail concept overseas, lack of resources, lack of consolidation in domestic market; and the external environment: legislation, currency, cultural differences and logistics. The findings also highlight an overall negative experience and perception of government support in assisting smaller retailers to overcome these barriers and aid expansion outside the UK.

Originality/value – The findings of this study provide important insight into the perceived and actual barriers encountered by retail SMEs. On one hand, the focus on SMEs provides fresh evidence to the retail internationalization literature, which has focused primarily on the barriers faced by large multinational retailers. On the other hand, the context of this study, yields new insight into research conducted in the field of SME internationalization, which has to date ignored smaller firms in the retail industry. The findings of this study also allow for recommendations to be made to both owner-managers and government organizations.



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