The Resource-based View and SME Internationalisation: An Emerging Economy Perspective


Objective: The aim of the paper is to advance the development of theory in the field of international business by seeking to understand to what extent the resource-based view (RBV), built on the experience and evidence from advanced economies, helps understand the internationalisation process of emerging economy SMEs.

Research Design & Methods: The paper is built on a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed journal articles on SME internationalisation motives and enablers in emerging economies.

Findings: The RBV arguments explain the internationalisation process of emerging economy SMEs only to some extent. In contrast to advanced economy firms, the internationalisation of SMEs from emerging economies is more likely to be driven by the exploitation of cost advantage, and motivation to gain new knowledge that is unavailable domestically and enhance their domestic market reputation. Besides it is more handicapped by a lack of internationalisation experience or international ties.

Implications & Recommendations: To understand the process of emerging economy SME internationalisation, it is necessary to study to what extent other logics contribute to its explication. Further research should also seek to synthesise findings of the above major theoretical frameworks in the context of emerging economy SME internationalisation process.

Contribution & Value Added: The originality of this work lies in studying the internationalisation motives and enablers of indigenous SMEs in emerging economies and challenging the applicability of the RBV arguments in this specific context.


resource-based view; internationalisation; emerging economy; SME

Alon, I., Yeheskel, O., Lerner, M., & Zhang, W. (2013). Internationalization of Chinese Entrepreneurial Firms. Thunderbird International Business Review, 55(5), 495-512. doi: 10.1002/tie.21566

Alvarez, E. (2004). Sources of export success in small-and medium-sized enterprises: the impact of public programs. International Business Review, 13(3), 383-400.

Amal, M., & Rocha Freitag Filho, A. (2010). Internationalization of small-and medium-sized enterprises: a multi case study. European Business Review, 22(6), 608-623. doi: 10.1108/09555341011082916

Aulakh, P. S., Kotabe, M., & Teegen, H. (2000). Export strategies and performance of firms from emerging economies: Evidence from Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. Academy of Management Journal, 43(3), 342-361.

Barney, J., Wright, M., & Ketchen, D. J. (2001). The resource-based view of the firm: Ten years after 1991. Journal of Management, 27(6), 625-641.

Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99-120.

Bianchi, C. (2009). Retail internationalisation from emerging markets: case study evidence from Chile. International Marketing Review, 26(2), 221-243.

Child, J., & Rodrigues, S. B. (2005). The Internationalization of Chinese Firms: A Case for Theoretical Extension? Management and Organization Review, 1(3), 381-410.

Cuervo-Cazurra, A., & Genc, M. (2008). Transforming disadvantages into advantages: developing-country MNEs in the least developed countries. Journal of international Business Studies, 39(6), 957-979.

Cui, L., Jiang, F., & Stening, B. (2011). The entry-mode decision of Chinese outward FDI: Firm resources, industry conditions, and institutional forces. Thunderbird International Business Review, 53(4), 483-499.

Cui, L., & Jiang, F. (2010). Behind ownership decision of Chinese outward FDI: Resources and institutions. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 27(4), 751-774. doi: 10.1002/tie.20425

Gao, G. Y., Murray, J. Y., Kotabe, M., & Lu, J. (2010). A “strategy tripod” perspective on export behaviors: Evidence from domestic and foreign firms based in an emerging economy. Journal of International Business Studies, 41(3), 377-396.

Guthrie, D. (2005). Organizational learning and productivity: State structure and foreign investment in the rise of the Chinese corporation. Management and Organization Review, 1(2), 165-195.

Hale, D. (2012 September). The Importance of Emerging Markets. CFA Institute Conference Proceedings Quarterly, 29(3), 43-50.

Harzing, A.W. (2014). Journal Quality List. Retrieved on March 15, 2015 from

Hoskisson, R. E., Eden, L., Lau, C. M., & Wright, M. (2000). Strategy in Emerging Economies. The Academy of Management Journal, 43(3), 249-267. doi: 10.2307/1556394

Huang, X., & Renyong, C. (2014). Chinese Private Firms’ Outward Foreign Direct Investment: Does Firm Ownership and Size Matter? Thunderbird International Business Review, 56(5), 393-406. doi: 10.1002/tie.21629

Karadeniz, E. E., & Göçer, K. (2007). Internationalization of small firms: A case study of Turkish small-and medium-sized enterprises. European Business Review, 19(5), 387-403.

Khanna, T., & Palepu, K. (2000). Is Group Affiliation Profitable in Emerging Markets? An Analysis of Diversified Indian Business Groups. The Journal of Finance, 55(2), 867-891.

Kocak, A., & Abimbola, T. (2009). The effects of entrepreneurial marketing on born global performance. International Marketing Review, 26(4/5), 439-452.

Kuemmerle, W. (2002). Home base and knowledge management in international new ventures. Journal of Business Venturing, 17(2), 99-122.

Liu, X., Xiao, W., & Huang, X. (2008). Bounded entrepreneurship and internationalisation of indigenous Chinese private-owned firms. International Business Review, 17(4), 488-508.

Luo, Y., Zhao, H., Wang, Y., & Xi, Y. (2011). Venturing Abroad by Emerging Market Enterprises. Management International Review, 51(4), 433-459. doi: 10.1007/s11575-011-0087-y

Manolova, T. S., Manev, I. M., & Gyoshev, B. S. (2010). In good company: The role of personal and inter-firm networks for new-venture internationalization in a transition economy. Journal of World Business, 45(3), 257-265.

Naudé, W., & Rossouw, S. (2010). Early international entrepreneurship in China: Extent and determinants. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 8(1), 87-111.

Nowiński, W., & Rialp, A. (2013). Drivers and strategies of international new ventures from a Central European transition economy. Journal for East European Management Studies, 18(2), 191-231.

Peng, M. W. (2001). The resource-based view and international business. Journal of Management, 27(6), 803-829.

Peng, M. W., & York, A. S. (2001). Behind intermediary performance in export trade: Transactions, agents, and resources. Journal of International Business Studies, 327-346.

Peng, M. W., & Luo, Y. (2000). Managerial ties and firm performance in a transition economy: The nature of a micro-macro link. Academy of Management Journal, 43(3), 486-501.

Prashantham, S., & Dhanaraj, C. (2010). The dynamic influence of social capital on the international growth of new ventures. Journal of Management Studies, 47(6), 967-994.

Singh, D. A. (2009). Export performance of emerging market firms. International Business Review, 18(4), 321-330.

Tang, Y. K. (2011). The Influence of networking on the internationalization of SMEs: Evidence from internationalized Chinese firms. International Small Business Journal, 29(4), 374-398.

Thai, M. T. T., & Chong, L. C. (2008). Born-global: The case of four Vietnamese SMEs. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 6(2), 72-100.

Vissak, T. (2007). The Emergence and Success Factors of Fast Internationalizers. Journal of East-West Business, 13(1), 11-33.

Yamakawa, Y., Peng, M. W., & Deeds, D. L. (2008). What drives new ventures to internationalize from emerging to developed economies? Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 32(1), 59-82.

Yamakawa, Y., Khavul, S., Peng, M. W., & Deeds, D. L. (2013). Venturing from Emerging Economies. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 7(3), 181-196. doi: 10.1002/sej.1158

Wach, K. (2014). The Role of Knowledge in the Internationalisation Process: An Empirical Investigation among Polish Businesses (chapter 7). In: Kiendl-Wendner, D. & Wach, K. (Eds.), Iternational Competitiveness in Visegrad Countries: Macro and Micro Perspectives (pp. 143-158). Graz: Fachhochschule Joanneum.

Wright, M., Filatotchev, I., Hoskisson, R. E., & Peng, M. W. (2005). Strategy Research in Emerging Economies: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom. Journal of Management Studies, 42(1), 1-33.


Published : 2015-06-20

KazlauskaitėR., AutioE., GelbūdaM., & ŠarapovasT. (2015). The Resource-based View and SME Internationalisation: An Emerging Economy Perspective. Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, 3(2), 53-64.

Rūta Kazlauskaitė
ISM University of Management and Economics  Lithuania
Erkko Autio 
Imperial College London  United Kingdom
Modestas Gelbūda 
ISM University of Management and Economics  Lithuania
Tadas Šarapovas 
ISM University of Management and Economics  Lithuania

Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a CC BY-ND licence that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
  2. Authors are asked to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

 Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) only the final version of the article, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access). We advise using any of the following research society portals:

Most read articles by the same author(s)