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Cautious international entrepreneurs: the case of the Mittelstand

Tuselmann, Heinz and Krause, Jurgen and McDonald, Frank and Schmenglar, Hans (2003) Cautious international entrepreneurs: the case of the Mittelstand. Journal of international entrepreneurship, 1 (4). pp. 363-381. ISSN 1570-7385

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Abstract

This paper investigates the international entrepreneurial behaviour of Mittelstand firms (German small and medium sized enterprises). Analysis of a survey of the international marketing strategies of Mittelstand firms revealed three clusters of firms, two that had below and one above average international activities. None of the clusters displayed ‘born global’ type of internationalisation processes. However, this does not mean that they adopt passive approaches to internationalisation. The results suggest that Mittelstand firms engage in entrepreneurial behaviour that is proactive and innovative but which is cautious, sequential, and risk adverse. The implications of this analysis for future research in the area of international entrepreneurship are considered.

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