The internationalization of SMEs in declining industries - cases from the watch industry
Abstract: It is possible for firms to survive within declining industries. However, growth through internationalization within this stage of an industry’s life-cycle has not been sufficiently explored in the past. As SMEs supposedly face many barriers during this process, the purpose of this thesis is to research the internationalization of SMEs within declining industries, with a focus on finding what is the biggest challenge to their internationalization. A multiple-case study and semi-structured interviews were used to explore internationalization in a declining industry, the watch industry. A theoretical framework was built and compared to both the primary and the secondary data collected throughout this study. The analysis shows that finding the right distributor is the biggest challenge throughout SMEs’ internationalization. It also finds trade shows related to declining industries not to be effective promotion tools for firms from this industry. Finally, this thesis finds smartwatches not to be perceived as a threat by traditional watch brands, due to the different values associated to these products.
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