An Examination of Key Issues in a Small Chinese Manufacturing Firm’s Internationalisation: A Longitudinal Case Study Approach

Millman, Cindy (2017) An Examination of Key Issues in a Small Chinese Manufacturing Firm’s Internationalisation: A Longitudinal Case Study Approach. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

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In contributing to the literature at the IE/Marketing interface, the aim of this research is to understand how Chinese small firms internationalise. The four key issues emerged and discussed are: (1) market orientation; (2) knowledge and entrepreneurial learning; (3) social capital; and (4) innovation. This was examined by employing a longitudinal qualitative case study using the grounded theory approach. This thesis is empirically-based, and is characterised by three key features: a) it uses a process approach; b) it focuses on its contribution to the growing body of the IE literature by exploring a unique case phenomenon; and c) it provides a ‘micro-level’ perspective: the key issues were examined as they evolve in the process of firms’ internationalisation.
The methodology is grounded in a social constructionist approach in which narrative accounts are used to develop understanding of the processes of entrepreneurial internationalisation, over a period of six years. Data were gathered primarily through in-depth interviews and observations on-site. A number of important results emerged from this study. Key findings are: (1) whilst individual’s knowledge plays a vital role in decisions made to expand internationally, the competence to learn and absorb capacity at the firm level overall played a significant role in the growth stage and in sustaining the overall competitive advantages and performances. (2) Social capital plays a crucial role in small firms’ internationalisation however, its various dimensions plays a dissimilar role in the process. (3) MO and innovation appears to be factors, embedding within, and interacting with, other factors, acting as both antecedent and outcome of international expansions. Moreover, the close coupling of these four key issues and their interaction with various factors has been advanced to explain the forward momentum of firms’ internationalisation. Finally, an integrated conceptual framework was developed which offers a holistic view in IE and in China for future theory testing.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: I would like to thank my first Supervisors team, Professor Lynn Martin and Professor Javed Hussain, for their invaluable inspiration and encouragement. Without them, I could never have started this journey. I would also like to thank my second supervisor, Professor David Crick, for his comments on the research aims, and for his honesty and continuing emotional support throughout the most challenging period of this study. I would also like to thank my third Supervisors team, Professor Michael Brown and Dr. Steven McCabe, for their instrumental comments on the chapters and drafts of the thesis, and for their continuing support throughout the most challenging period of this study. My sincere thanks also goes to my supervisory team during the re-submission stage: Dr. Steven McCabe and Professor Annie Lu for their understanding, emotional support and patience. Their intellectual enthusiasm and wisdom were of inestimable value, and a source of inspiration. Particular thanks are due to those who have participated in this research and shared their experiences openly with me. I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the research participants, who are the ‘co-authors’ of this thesis. The financial support of the Birmingham City University in the last seven years of the research is gratefully appreciated. I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Upkar Pardesi (OBE), Professor Chris Prince, Professor John Sparrow, Roger Baty and Peter Walker at the Birmingham City Business School for facilitating the financial support as well as for providing intellectual support. I owe a great deal of thanks to Professor Harry Matlay, Professor David Edwards and Professor Hatem EI-Gohary for their continuous support, guidance and advice at all stages of the research. I also wish to acknowledge the administrative support provided by my colleagues at Birmingham City University, namely Beccy Boydell, Cath Eden, Pauline Wilson and, that of, Chris Hill and Joanne Slater. It is impossible to list all the colleagues and friends who supported me during my doctoral study. Just to name a few, I extend my thanks to Professor David Rea who supported me intellectually during this journey. My colleagues, Paul Radway, Dr. Charlotte Carey, Dr. Jenny Huang and Dr. Navjot Sandhu, have provided their support and help for which I am grateful. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my family, particularly to my parents, Hongzhen Zhang and Wenyong Liu, for all the values and principles that they taught to me; and making me who I am and doing all that I can to get to where I am today and in the years to come. Last but not least, I wish to thank my husband, Stewart Millman, for his patience, support and encouragement during this long journey. He has extended such a great deal of support at all stages, more than any one person should be required to do in a life time. DEDICATION This thesis is dedicated to my father, Professor Wenyong Liu (刘文勇), who has taught me that ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’. To you, father in heaven.
13 October 2017Completed
Uncontrolled Keywords: International Entrepreneurship; Small firms; Market orientation; Knowledge, Social capital; Innovation; China; Case study, Manufacturing
Subjects: CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-02 - business studies
CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-04 - languages and area studies > CAH19-04-06 - Asian studies
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Kip Darling
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2019 13:33
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:40

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