Factors explaining success in the internationalization of finnish small and medium-sized design companies

Markku Salimäki*, Mika Gabrielsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this paper is to examine whether Finnish design companies can use design as a source of competitive advantage in their internationalization process and what other competitive elements are essential. One of the central findings of this research was that many of the small and medium-sized firms in the Finnish design industry could even attain a leading position in the Western European market and remain highly profitable at the same time. The simultaneous, balanced enhancement of internal efficiency and external effectiveness, guided by a strategy of internationalization, can be seen as the cornerstone of success. Another key point was that the companies studied had achieved their strong position in the international market through specialization and carefully targeted choices. Within the internationally successful companies, design has been a part of the overall business strategy, serving as a tool for market-specific adaptation and differentiation in the provision of products and services. Properly used, design also supported the aims of internal efficiency. We conclude by suggesting the extension of the research to other similar countries to validate the preliminary results found in the Finnish design industry.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalThe Design Journal : An International Journal for All Aspects of Design
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2005
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • Competitive advantage
  • Design firms
  • Internationalization
  • Success


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