Factors Contributing to the Internationalization Performance of Danish Manufacturing SMEs: A Statistical Exploration of the Significance of a Broad Range of Firm-internal Factors and Their Impact on SME Internationalization Performance

Viktor Konstantin Bank

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis aims to explore which factors contribute to the successful internationalization of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in selected Danish manufacturing sectors. Based on survey data provided by a sample of 86 Danish manufacturing SMEs from eight industry sectors, this thesis applies a series of multi-variate linear regression models to establish which factors influence different aspects of internationalization performance. The independent variables and hypotheses under scrutiny are derived from Cavusgil’s (1980) Five Stage Model (thereby following Zahra’s (β016) call for theory-grounded research) of incremental firm internationalization and are complemented by an extensive set of control variables derived from research in the field of SME internationalization. This thesis concludes that the Five Stage Model’s assumptions (including incremental internationalization) and predictions are mostly coherent based on the given sample and that a significant share of the theory-founded hypotheses are backed by statistical evidence. Thus, this thesis underlines the applicability of said theory of incremental internationalization and contributes to the heated discussion on the validity of theories assuming incremental internationalization. Moreover, the thesis provides support for the generalizability of a series of previous research publications in the field of SME internationalization as the assumptions and conclusions of these studies also applied to the sample of 86 Danish manufacturing companies at hand. While this thesis solely considered SMEs in a small set of Danish manufacturing sectors, relied on a rather small sample (N = 86) and did not test the entire scope of variables considered potentially relevant by Cavusgil, it contributed to the field of SME internationalization by testing models involving a large amount of variables previously found to be relevant, giving an indication about the ability of these variables to explain variance in the presence of new variables and finally, by assessing the merits of a theory of incremental internationalization and supporting an integrative framework assuming the existence of several internationalization pathways.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages94
SupervisorsCristiana Parisi