Loughborough University
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Searching for a new perspective on institutional voids, networks and the internationalisation of SMEs in emerging economies: a systematic literature review

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posted on 2023-09-27, 08:11 authored by Ofer Dekel DachsOfer Dekel Dachs, Marta Najda-Janoszka, Peter Stokes, Amon Simba, Shlomo Tarba

Purpose: This study, a systematic review, focuses on the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) originating in developing countries. It critically analyses, evaluates and synthesises studies featuring formal and informal institutions, embedded in social and business networks, as a marketing solution for institutional voids. The review shows that current international marketing studies downplay the role of informal institutions in the internationalisation of SMEs. Thus, the authors set a new research agenda for advancing the institutional theory to account for the impact of informal institutions and networks on firm internationalisation.

Design/methodology/approach: This review followed five structured stages, including framing the research questions, identifying relevant studies, assessing their quality, summarising the evidence and interpreting the findings. Based on the systematic approach, 434 papers (374 from Web of Science, 60 from Scopus) were generated. Following that, the authors applied the qualitative inclusion/exclusion criteria, which yielded 63 papers. Their analysis involved three authors, with the fourth author focusing on ensuring quality in the analysis.

Findings: The study findings invite a different line of theorising market structures and processes focusing on the role of networks as an alternative to formal institutional systems. The outcome of our review suggests that there is scope for developing the institutional theory that account for the role of informal institutions and networks.

Originality/value: Based on the analysis, we call for new theorisation, in the international marketing literature, which accounts for informal networking amongst internationalising SMEs in the light of institutional voids. Thus, the authors promote novel participatory, bottom to top understanding of relationship between institutions and enterprises.



  • Loughborough Business School

Published in

International Marketing Review






879 - 899




  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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© Emerald Publishing Limited

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal International Marketing Review and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1108/imr-12-2020-0303. This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please visit Marketplace: https://marketplace.copyright.com/rs-ui-web/mp

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Dr Ofer Dekel Dachs. Deposit date: 11 September 2023