The internationalisation process of UK SMEs: exporting and non-exporting behaviours based on a four forces behavioural model

Dafnis N. Coudounaris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to develop a new internationalisation model to describe the exporting and non-exporting behaviours of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and then applying it to a sample of UK SMEs. The conceptual model consists of four forces leading to a successful business.
The sample is a stratified one taken from KOMPASS directory and focussing on the Greater Manchester area. In total, 250 firms were chosen to be the population of this survey. In total, 110 surveys were received by email i.e. 24 non-exporters and 86 exporters that were fully completed.
The four forces of the model include the non-exporting activity, the activity before and after the first export order, differences and similarities between non-exporters and exporters and the regular exporting activity. This model’s findings demonstrate important empirical determinants related to four forces, which, in turn, shape the successful exporting activity.
The empirical evidence from the study suggests that the major differences between non-exporters and exporters, which include the differences in management perceptions towards exporting, and the differences and similarities of firm and management characteristics, explain only to some degree what constitutes successful exporting behaviour. The model is considered useful for smaller businesses located in the UK. The study highlights the importance of firms before and after the first export order, which provides insights for managers of firms about going through with the first export order rather than withdrawing from this effort. The study reveals the motivations for exporting, the timing, the modes through which firms export, firms’ management characteristics and attitudinal differences between exporters and non-exporters, which are essential for practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalReview of International Business and Strategy
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)217-256
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 15.05.2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • exporting and non-exporting behaviours
  • UK SMEs
  • non-exporting activity
  • activity before and after first export order
  • differences between exporters and non-exporters in management and firm characteristics
  • regular exporting activity
  • differences between exporter vs non-exporters in management perceptions on exporting and management and firm characteristics


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