Collaboration and Internationalization of SMEs: Insights and Recommendations from a Systematic Review

Nadia Zahoor, Omar Al-Tabbaa, Zaheer Khan* (Corresponding Author), Geoffrey Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper performs a systematic literature review of the undeniably diverse – and somewhat fragmented – current state of research on the collaborations and internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We analyze key works and synthesize them into a framework that conceptually maps key antecedents, mediators, and moderators that influence the internationalization of SMEs. In addition, we highlight limitations of the literature, most notably in terms of theoretical fragmentation; extant theories are deployed and illustrated but rarely extended in a manner that significantly informs subsequent work. At an applied (but related) level, we argue the need for supplementary work that explores the distinct stages of internationalization – and the scope and scale of this process – rather than assuming closure around particular events. With this, we highlight the need for more rigorous and empirically informed explorations of contextual effects that take account of the consequences of developments in the global economic ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Management Reviews
Early online date21 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2020


  • SMEs
  • internationalization
  • networks
  • collaborations
  • systematic literature review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management

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