Internationalization of small business through relationships was the focus of this research. The purpose was to identify how international business relationships were initiated, built, and maintained and what values and competencies were practiced by successful and award-winning small business owner-managers in Sri Lanka. The multiple case study method was used with a phenomenological approach to analyze in-depth qualitative data collected from face-to-face interviews. The three research questions were: 1) How were international business relationships initiated, built, and maintained by Sri Lankan SB owner-managers?, 2) What business relationship competencies did Sri Lankan SB owner-managers demonstrate as they engaged in international business relationships? and 3) What did Sri Lankan SB owner-managers value as they engaged in international business relationships? The data were triangulated using documents and interviews with business experts in selecting information-rich cases.
Sri Lankan SB managers experienced that close friendships have many benefits in expanding their markets, products, technological innovations, and knowledge of business partners and markets. They initiated friendships through family and friends. Later such friendships were expanded to new clients with the help of their business dyads. Their lived experience is painted through the major theme that "relationships in business are like a family." Within this theme, there were three major essences: "profit is not the only motive," "do the best, give the best, and tell the truth," and "continuity of friendship means continuity of business." These findings show positive impacts of friendships on international business.
Acquiring and using appropriate knowledge, personalities that made them like families, skills, behaviors, and mutually beneficial relational strategies in international business were the relational competencies. The research participants value establishing and continuing mutually beneficial relationships as an essential part of their businesses to avoid conflicts on issues in internationalization of their SBs. This research witnessed that SB managers have the capability to be sustained in international markets. Building family-like relationships took a long time because there were no educational programs designed to develop relational competencies. I argue that relationships in business bring many benefits. Identifying positive and negative factors of relationships is an important topic for further research.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2009. Major: Work and Human Resource Education. Advisor: Dr. Rosemarie J. Park. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 199 pages, appendices A-D. Ill. map (some col.)
Hewapathirana, Gertrude Iranganie.
Internationalization of small business: multiple case studies of successful small business managers in Sri Lanka..
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