Meaningful internationalization: a study among the leaders of Brazilian smaller enterprises

Seifert, Rene Eugenio (2010). Meaningful internationalization: a study among the leaders of Brazilian smaller enterprises. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis considers how leaders of smaller firms attach meanings to internationalization. This is examined by the means of a survey questionnaire of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises [SME] operating in the clothing industry of Parana State in Brazil, and 58 qualitative interviews with the leaders of these firms. The thesis argues that existing theories of internationalization overlook the question of what international involvement means to relevant actors and in so doing have produced a body of knowledge characterized by deterministic, rationalist and individualist assumptions of organizational action that seriously understate the role of choice, interpretation and the collective dynamics of meaningful action. Drawing on Weber’s (1964; 1978) argument that social action is meaningful the thesis advances an integrative view of internationalization as a meaningful action characterized by the interplay of choice, rationality and interpretation. The thesis presents evidence sufficient to show that meanings regarding the criteria and parameters informing rational choice in internationalization vary with decision makers’ interpretations. In addition, it demonstrates that such meanings do not always accord with available theories. The thesis discusses why a recognition that internationalization is meaningful, and therefore implies choice and interpretation in addition to rationality, is critical for further theorizing. Finally, it considers the contributions of the findings and arguments for policymaking and managerial practice in smaller businesses.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Birmingham Business School
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor


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