Between October 2013 and December 2014 staff at the University of Applied Sciences Burgenland department of economics and the university’s research subsidiary, Forschung Burgenland, carried out the project “Internationalisation of SMEs“. Internationalisation is a key aspect in Burgenland’s research, technology and innovation strategy. The team carried out the study to contribute to the analysis of the starting point of regional businesses and to serve as database for additional activities within the framework of SMEs’ internationalisation strategy.
The study focused on a quantitative survey of businesses in order to look into how businesses view internationalisation issues concerning qualitative business development. Essentially, the study confirmed that internationalisation acts as motor in business development. The larger number of businesses that took part in the study were SMEs managed by their respective owners; these SMEs had been in business for 20 years on average. The phase of internationalisation started around the fifth business year and took about two years. The average rate of internationalisation of the SMEs comes to about 55%, which means that every other Euro in turnover is in some form connected to internationalisation. A key insight of the study was that internationalisation has a major impact on business configuration variables such as environment, ownership, management & resources. The study found no evidence that linked business configurations to the various types of internationalisation or to an SME’s degree of internationalisation.
Implications for research and current practice
The results show that a well-founded analysis of business configurations yields valuable insights regarding changes in configuration variables for the development of SMEs. Based on these insights additional qualitative surveys, e.g. case studies, should provide a deeper understanding of mechanisms and interdependencies of business configurations.