We examine the role of learning firm-specific advantages of small and medium size (SME) service firms in their internationalization. We focus on technical services that have received limited scholarly attention. We theorize that innovative born global firms build a set of capabilities in market, internal and relational learning that will provide new knowledge configurations to undertake technical and administrative innovations. Adopting an organizational sub-system view, we posit that market learning drives other learning capabilities in the firm to contribute collectively to innovation, and in turn, international market outcomes. The findings of our study of US born global SMEs support this theorization. Market-learning capability operates in a complex set of relationships with other learning capabilities in its contribution to innovation. Interestingly, relative to technical innovation, administrative innovation makes a prominent contribution to international market outcomes. We discuss implications of our findings for theory and practice and provide future research directions.
Bibliographical noteThe authors would like to acknowledge the financial assistance of the Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP0558337 for this research and the guidance provided by the editor and anonymous reviewers during the review process.
- Born globals
- Dynamic capabilities
- Learning capabilities
- Service innovation
- Service internationalization
- Technical and administrative innovation