The drivers of the early internationalization of the firm
Time in firm internationalization has different dimensions: it might refer to the early start of international activities, the speed of international growth, or to its pace and rhythm. This contribution considers the first dimension mentioned, viz. precocity, and aims at understanding which variables determine an early international orientation. Building on a literature review, a theoretical framework is proposed in order to integrate a fragmented literature body. The framework is then tested through an analysis on a sample of 144 SMEs. Among the drivers of early internationalization the role of the previous experience of the entrepreneur, and especially of their international experience, frequently nurtured in internationally oriented family firms on one side or in multinational/foreign firms on the other one, was found significant. The positive association between precocity and niche positioning of the business enforces the relevance of entrepreneurship because focalization is a reflection of entrepreneurial orientation and strategic decisions.