Würzburg International Business Forum


Conference Theme: Small Firm Internationalisation and International Entrepreneurship - ‘Managing Sustainable Innovation’

Entrepreneurship, innovation and internationalisation are substantially interrelated. In an increasingly competitive world economy these are getting more importance. In 2000 at its Lizbon meeting, the European Council set the objective of making the European Union “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”. Entrepreneurship, innovation and internationalisation are essential ingredients of achieving such objectives as they are now three of the most important factors for growth and job creation in open market economies.

With the beginning of the internet era, entrepreneurship in international scale has become easier. Many start-ups now aim the international market from their inception. In other words, the number of so called "born globals” is increasing very quickly. Therefore, international entrepreneurship has also become a significant concept in the business literature. Currently, many countries and international organisations focus on international entrepreneurship for job creation and economic growth. This is particularly important these days as the effects of the global economic crisis still have been present.

Small companies (or small and medium sized enterprises [SMEs] in general) are entrepreneurial in their nature. SMEs are not always growth oriented individually. Many small business owners do not aim to grow the company size at all. But since the number of SMEs in any economy is overwhelming, they contribute substantially to GNPs and also to employment. Many of these firms are family owned. Corporate governance issues have interesting aspects in family owned-firms. The unification of ownership and management enables the top management to make opportunistic investments by relying on intuition. Therefore, such firms are more flexible in comparison with shareholders-owned and managerially-controlled firms to adapt to changing environments, to enter new markets or, to introduce new products. Perhaps because of this attribute, family firms do tend perform better in adverse economic conditions.

In addition, Sustainable innovation refers to new products or processes to generate long-term social and environmental benefits while creating economic profits for companies. In this context, small company internationalisation, or entrepreneurial activities at international level may also be helpful for being innovative for societies sustainable well-being, while sustainable innovations may also contribute to companies’ internationalisation, and international competitiveness.

So far, the internationalisation of SMEs and family-owned small firms and also small multinationals have been studied relatively lesser than the potential. In this respect, the WIBF’s 5th International Business Conference will focus on international entrepreneurship and small firm internationalisation, and also on activities small multinational companies to manage sustainable innovation. The conference will be a global forum aimed at assessing the impact of, and generating discussion regarding, these recent developments in order to reach a deeper understanding of the evident opportunities, risks, and outcomes. The main themes of the conference are social and economic outcomes of foreign investments by small multinational enterprises; internationalisation of small firms and international entrepreneurship; how these outcomes are influenced by home countries and international organizations, through legislation, other legal arrangements, policies, and unofficial mechanisms. The conference also aims to identify the similarities and differences between small multinational enterprises from emerging and developed countries, and to analyse the effects of these on employment, growth and development issues in home and host countries. The Conference will explore both theoretical issues in the field and practical issues in formulating policy and strategy and it will pay attention to the issue of employment and growth. Some major questions and topics would be:

  • Why and how SMEs internationalize? What are the major motivations and strategies?
  • How new business models can be generated through international entrepreneurship?
  • How a turbulent international environment in terms of economic crisis and political upheaval affects company internationalisation, and international entrepreneurship?
  • FDI by small multinationals and effects of their activities on value creation, employment and growth in home and host countries, particularly in times of crises
  • Lessons to be learned from the successful small multinationals in terms of internationalization and foreign direct investment activities
  • How small multinationals can manage sustainable innovation?
  • Do sustainable innovations contribute to small firm internationalisation and entrepreneurial activities at international level?

  • International entrepreneurship (IE)
  • Emerging paradigms of IE
  • Small firm internationalisation and sustainable innovation management
  • Green innovations
  • Frugal innovation
  • Sustainable innovation
  • IE, business model development and new business models
  • IE in Germany, in the European Union and other European countries
  • IE in Asia, the Middle East and the North Africa, Africa, in Americas etc.
  • Knowledge transfer in IE
  • Women in IE
  • Immigrants and IE
  • IE in developed countries and emerging markets
  • Impact of social relationships in IE
  • Internationalization processes in IE: Networks and patterns of International New Ventures (INV)
  • Inward Internationalization in IE: Supply Chain Management and International Purchasing
  • IE as part of the value creation process
  • De-internationalization and its consequences
  • Methodological issues in IE research
  • Applications of analytical frameworks and measurements that capture the presence, and evolution, of distinctive capabilities in IE
  • Challenges and opportunities for IE
  • Cross-national comparisons of internationally-oriented entrepreneurs
  • Marketing, finance, production, management issues and IE
  • Impact of internationally oriented small firms on regional and national economies
  • Internationalization of SMEs
  • Financing SME internationalization
  • SME internationalization and country risk management
  • SME internationalization and Export Credit Agencies
  • Government export and investment promotion policies and SME internationalization
  • Internationalization pathways of family firms
  • Foreign market entry of family firms
  • Internationalization of German SMEs
  • Small German multinationals
  • Internationalization of SMEs found by immigrants in different countries
  • Diaspora entrepreneurship and internationalisation
  • Foreign entry modes of small firms
  • Export and import activities of SMEs
  • Contract-based foreign entry modes undertaken by SMEs
  • International franchising and SMEs
  • International licensing and SMEs
  • International contract manufacturing and SMEs
  • Inward and outward internationalization of SMEs
  • Networks configurations in the internationalization family and non-family firms
  • Born global features of family firms
  • International opportunity recognition and opportunity development of family firms
  • Comparative studies between the internationalization of family and non-family firms
  • Entrepreneurial orientation in the internationalization of family firms
  • The effect of generational change on the internationalization of family firms
  • Market and entry mode selection of family firms
  • The role of ‘family capital’ as social capital on internationalization of family firms  
  • The differential impact of family governance structure in family firms
  • Foreign direct investments (FDI) by small multinationals
  • The effects of FDI made by small multinationals on home countries (i.e. those which export capital such as Germany), and the host countries (i.e. those which import capital)
  • Opportunities for ‘economic growth and employment’ brought about by international entrepreneurs and small firms involved in international commercial activities
  • Opportunities and threats for ‘economic growth and employment’ brought about by FDI by small multinationals, both in their own countries and those they invest in.   
  • The relationship between the home and countries where small multinationals were born or invested in
  • Role and impact of the board of directors on internationalization process in SMEs
  • Impact of international alliances and mergers on the internationalization of SMEs
  • Internationalizing SMEs and emerging digital economies
  • Ethics and internationalization of family-owned SMEs
  • Values-based leadership and internationalization of family-owned SMEs
  • Other topics relevant to the theme of the conference