Leadership Capabilities in internationalising Swiss SMEs

Sabatino, Andrea (2016) Leadership Capabilities in internationalising Swiss SMEs. Master thesis, Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana.

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Abstract

Nowadays business growth, especially in countries with a small or at least limited domestic market, involves an unavoidable process of expansion into foreign markets that every enterprise will have to undergo eventually. As a consequence, it is necessary to consider the interdisciplinary study of leadership and its global competencies and capabilities as a key element for the success of the internationalisation process. Besides of acquiring basic knowledge on how to handle favourably the transaction from a domestic to a foreign market in terms of leadership and management skills, the study has two further main goals. Firstly, it aims at testing the importance of capabilities required by leaders of Swiss SMEs to internationalise their firm. Secondly, the study reflects the impact of entering foreign markets on the firm’s performance. The research is conducted by means of a qualitative approach consisting in the analysis of a sample of eleven Swiss SME leaders. The critical evaluation of the data gathered during the interviews in relation to the research questions, together with the knowledge and tools acquired through the previously performed literature review, is used to compare the obtained results in order to identify possible congruencies and/or differences in theory and practice. In particular, the study correlates the accomplishment of internationalisation in practice with that described in the literature before investigating which personal capabilities are most exploited by leaders throughout the process. First and foremost the study reveals that the successful leaders are those who stimulate the company’s achievements by exploiting their personal capabilities. Interestingly, SME leaders do not need to strive for any particular capability cluster. Rather it seems important to recognise and master the one fitting the strategy of the respective company and internationalisation stage. However, international experience and therefore knowledge of the target market as well as managerial competence appear to be of deep value for internationalising a company, and thus should not be neglected in any of its strategic moves toward this goal. Furthermore, the thesis confirms that during the expansion into foreign markets Swiss SMEs experience noticeable consequences on their performance, particularly in terms of profitability, corporate culture and strategy. In conclusion, this research project shows that adaptation to the target market is the key for business expansion. Most importantly, it is here where the decision-makers’ international capabilities and experiences prove to be beneficial. Intercultural dialogue serves as the essential starting point: whilst knowledge of the other language and cultural customs or traditions does not ensure alliance, it can reduce the chance of perceiving inaccurate stereotypes and thus having to embrace failure.

Item Type: Thesis (Master)
Supervisors: Baldegger, Rico J.
Additional Information: Indirizzo di approfondimento: Innovation Management
Uncontrolled Keywords: foreign markets, internationalisation process, strategy, knowledge, profitability
Subjects: Economia
Management
Divisions: Dipartimento economia aziendale, sanità e sociale > Economia e Diritto
URI: http://tesi.supsi.ch/id/eprint/480

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