This paper sets out to establish the sources of the relationships underpinning Early Rapidly Internationalising Small Firm (ERISF) cross border activities, the main characteristics and specific functions of these relationships, and their process of development. Using interview data from ten South African firms, the findings show that the founder’s pre-firm knowledge pools are important in establishing the source of the initial hierarchical knowledge-based interpersonal ties. ERISF internationalisation is enabled by an initial prior interpersonal network tie set, which is composed of predominantly strong knowledge-based contacts. The ERISF acts as the source that provides the technical information and knowledge, which is then adopted by their network partners. This means that the ERISF’s product and technological capabilities drive the international knowledge creation process. The findings provide a holistic characterisation of the concept of knowledge in ERISF internationalisation. Within their interorganisational relationships, ERISFs are involved in knowledge creation, knowledge transfer and knowledge adoption activities. Network ties developed in existing knowledge pools are extended to new knowledge pools enabling the leveraging of limited resources.
International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 2014, Vol 10, Issue 3
Early Rapidly Internationalising Small Firms (ERISFs) New Technology Based Firms (NTBFs) Knowledge pool Network ties Network South Africa