Knowledge acquisition, learning, and the initial pace of internationalization

Jose C. Casillas, Jose L. Barbero, Harry J. Sapienza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


We analyze how knowledge, learning, and strategic intent shape export intensity during the period surrounding the initiation of export activities in small, independent firms. Our research is conducted on a sample of small firms started in Andalusia, a region characterized by a lower proportion of exporting firms. By examining the interplay among different forms of knowledge and learning we extend stage and international entrepreneurship models of the internationalization process. We find that in addition to the expected direct effects of learning, different forms of knowledge and learning interact to shape the pace of internationalization. Additionally, we find that pre-existing foreign knowledge influences export intensity in younger firms, but not in older ones; and, that the effects of vicarious learning and experiential learning on export intensity are conditioned by firms' strategic intentions. We discuss the meaning of our results and suggest avenues for future study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-114
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Business Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We sought to study the period surrounding the initiation of export in small, independent firms. In order to do so, it was necessary to identify firms seriously interested in exporting as well as those that had within the last year initiated exporting. We had the opportunity to do this when a regional agency, Extenda, in the Andalusia region of Spain, joined with a local University to offer seminars for local independent firms on the initiation or early expansion of exporting. Instructors were practitioners and faculty members knowledgeable about exporting in the region. One of the authors participated in this course and collected data from firms as part of their interaction. The course was funded by the European Commission Social Fund. Seminars ran from October 2007 to March 2008 and included modules on international commerce, marketing, negotiation, and other topics. A total of 182 independent companies from Andalusia participated. In short, our sampling population is a self-selected set of firms interested in beginning or expanding their export activities.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Export intensity
  • Internationalization
  • Knowledge
  • Learning
  • Strategic intent

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