External resource provision and the international performance of SMEs – a contextual analysis

John Child*, Rose Narooz, Linda Hsieh, Said Elbanna, Joanna Karmowska, Svetla Marinova, Pushyarag Puthusserry, Terence Tsai, Yunlu Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigates whether different categories of links (core and discretionary) to external resource providers are associated with the international performance of SMEs, as well as the perceived importance of external links for providing specific forms of assistance toward internationalization. A study of 180 internationally active SMEs examines whether these features vary according to the SMEs' contexts, specifically their industry and level of home economy development. The relevance of these two contexts is theoretically informed by resource dependence, environmental munificence and institutional perspectives. SME decision-makers' attribution of importance to discretionary external links predicts stronger international performance, but this is not the case with core market transactional links. Different external parties emerge as important sources of specific forms of assistance toward internationalization. Many of these results are associated with the SME's industry and home economy context. The paper concludes with a new contextually-informed model of SME egocentric networking and implications for practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100924
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of International Management
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the British Academy / Leverhulme Trust [grant numbers: SG090831 , SG120531 ]; Birmingham Business School ; China Europe International Business School ; and the UAE National Research Foundation .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


  • Context
  • Internationalization
  • Performance
  • Resource provision
  • SME

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


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