International Opportunity Recognition among Small and Medium-Sized Family Firms

T. Kontinen, A. Ojala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current research in the field of entrepreneurship emphasizes the importance of opportunity recognition as a key element in the entrepreneurial process. It has been recognized that network ties, activeness and alertness, and prior knowledge are related to how entrepreneurs recognize new opportunities. However, it is unclear how important these factors are when a firm explores opportunities for entry into a foreign market. In this exploratory case study, covering the international opportunity recognition of eight family-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), we found that the firms in question mainly recognized international opportunities by establishing new formal ties rather than using existing informal or family ties. The findings also indicated that due to the small size and the flexibility of the management team in family SMEs, these firms were able to react quickly to new international opportunities. However, there was no direct relationship between the prior knowledge of the firms and their international opportunity recognition. In addition, we found that trade exhibitions formed the primary context for the international opportunity recognition of the SMEs in this study. These findings motivate a set of five propositions that may lead to further studies on this topic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-514
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Small Business Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011


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