Exploring the Internationalisation of Chinese Privately-owned Enterprises (POEs)
Internationalisation has long been a focus of research among international business scholars. However, there is little knowledge about Chinese firms' internationalisation processes. This study is based on the premise that Chinese firms may have different international behaviours, compared to Western firms, given China's distinctive institutional and cultural environments. To test this argument, this thesis examines Chinese firms' internationalisation rationales, approaches and influential factors. It focuses on small and medium-sized privately-owned enterprises (POEs) that are actively engaged in international operations. Interviews were conducted with decision makers of six POEs from four industries, including the telecommunications networks, electronics, meters, and textiles. These firms were located in Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces. The data collected were analysed using within-case and cross-case analysis approaches. Findings were then compared to extant literature, including the Uppsala's internationalisation process model (U-model) and the theory associated with international new ventures (INVs). The findings presented here indicate that the Chinese POEs' internationalisation behaviours are not particularly different from their Western counterparts. Even though neither the U-model nor the INVs framework alone could fully capture the complexities of the Chinese POEs' internationalisation processes, both demonstrate their applicability in different ways. The study develops 15 propositions that should enable researchers to develop a better understanding of Chinese POEs' internationalisation processes. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for theory development and future research, as well as managerial implications. This case study contributes to a wider theoretical understanding of Chinese POEs' internationalisation behaviours.