University of Oulu

The connection between culture, business networks and SME internationalization : an example from Japan

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Author: Häkälä, Inka-Liisa1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Management and International Business, International Business
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : I.-L. Häkälä, 2015
Publish Date: 2015-10-19
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, Pia
Reviewer: Hurmelinna-Laukkanen, Pia
Tuunainen, Juha
This study takes an example from Japan into the connection between culture, business networks and SME internationalization. This is divided into two parts, a literature review and six (N=6) face-to-face semi-structured expert interviews with Japanese SME internationalization experts. The literature review finds that there is a consensus in the field that business networks generally increase the propensity and success of SME internationalization. Culture is also found to have a clear impact in SMEs in terms of behavior in both national and international contexts. A key concept on the connection between culture and SME internationalization is psychic distance. These phenomena of the general theory are compared with the case of Japanese SMEs, and a theoretical framework is formed. The findings of this study that are based on the theoretical framework and six semi-structured interviews can be summarized into four main propositions; P1.) Networks have a strong influence on the internationalization of Japanese SMEs. In some cases, Japanese SME internationalization through networks behavior differs from the general patterns in the way that in case of horizontal networks, networks do not increase the propensity for internationalization for member SMEs. P2.) Psychic distance seems to lessen Japanese SME motivation to internationalize. In case of Japanese vertical networks, the strong network ties revoke the effect of psychic distance. In case of Japanese horizontal networks a strong pulling factor for internationalization does not exist, and therefore psychic distance has a stronger influence. P3.) Japanese culture, specifically psychic distance, can be seen as one of the reasons for the differences in Japanese SME internationalization through networks when compared to the general theory. P4.) Culture seems to have a strong connection with both business networks and SME internationalization, and this connection varies according to the focal culture. Out of these propositions, the first three ones offer an explanation of the connection between Japanese culture, business networks and SMEs, whereas the last proposition makes a contribution for the theory in general level; the connection between culture, business networks and SME internationalization. The study raises focus on the fact that culture can have a different connection to both business networks and SME internationalization (and their connection is thus different) according to different cultures. This is especially important in the research field of SME internationalization through network approach, which is dominated by Western theories.
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Copyright information: © Inka-Liisa Häkälä, 2015. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.