Proceedings of The 3rd International Conference on Advanced Research in Business, Management and Economics
Associational Strategies for European SMEs’ Internationalization: Introducing the Meta-Organization as a Multi-Level Unit of Analysis
Calin Gurau, Leo-Paul Dana
In the past, entrepreneurs could prosper as owner-managers of independent local businesses. As a consequence, the unit of analysis in business research has typically been – and continues to be – the entrepreneur and/or the enterprise. Yet, the reality of the global marketplace has been changing, as formerly competing firms are now co-operating in various types of horizontal, vertical, or trans-industry alliances. Growth need not take place by means of mergers and acquisitions, but can also be attained via networking, leading to a multi-polar distribution of ownership and control. The individual firm is no longer the most important player being substituted by associations, groups or networks. To reflect the changing reality, we investigate the concept of meta-organizations as a potential platform for the internationalization of European SMEs; we do this, using an inductive approach that mobilizes and interprets a wide range of business theories on in the areas of internationalization, entrepreneurship, organization, and economics.
Keywords: SMEs, internationalization, network theory, inter-organizational relations, meta-organization.