Highly innovative small technology firms, industrial clusters and firm internationalization

Dirk Libaers, Martin S. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the role and differential impact of industrial clustering in the internationalization of small technology-based firms. Serial innovator firms are a set of small, long-lived technology-based firms with a stellar record of inventive success. In contrast, non-serial innovators are small technology-based firms with much weaker inventive capabilities. Using theoretical insights from the resource-based view and density dependence theory, we demonstrate that both serial and non-serial innovator firms benefit from rising levels of industrial clustering in their efforts to internationalize; however, non-serial innovators experience decreasing returns with increasing levels of clustering. In addition, our analysis indicates that overall serial innovator firms benefit more from industrial clustering in terms of internationalization than non-serial innovator firms. The underlying premise and contribution of this study is that all small technology-based firms are not the same and that serial innovators are more effective at leveraging cluster-based resources than non-serial innovators, even when they operate in the same industry. Policy implications for research and economic development are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1426-1437
Number of pages12
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

We owe a debt of gratitude to Drs. Diana Hicks, Philip Shapira, Jennifer Clark and Nancey Green-Leigh for comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The Kauffmann Foundation small grants program at Georgia Tech provided generous research support for this research.


  • Serial and non-serial innovator firms
  • Industrial clustering
  • Internationalization
  • RBV
  • Density dependence theory


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