Pipsa PURHONEN (University of Jyväskylä), Collaborative Interaction in the Internationalization of Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises, English/22 pages, December 2010.


Internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involves inter-organizational collaboration between the representatives of SMEs and intermediary organizations such as business consultancies, finance companies or research and innovation centers. This study provides the individual practitioners’ view of collaborative interaction in the context of internationalization of Finnish SMEs into China, based on qualitative written data (N = 93). The findings produced using a phenomenographic approach suggest that collaborative interaction in SME internationalization can be characterized as goal-oriented task communication, other-oriented relational communication, and ethics-oriented dialogic communication, having both personal and organizational functions and outcomes. In addition, the study reveals dialectical tensions such as personal-professional, emergent-strategic, and stability-change, inherent in inter-organizational business collaboration. The study concludes with a discussion of both theoretical and practical implications of the findings.
Keywords: collaborative interaction, inter-organizational collaboration, interpersonal communication, relational dialectics, SME internationalization