This study has employed a case-based approach to explore the relevance of relational factors in explaining the internationalization of six software B2B SMEs from Syria. It contributes by providing rare empirical insights on the internationalization behavior of Middle Eastern SMEs and redressing, albeit slightly, the apparent research gap in the internationalization of knowledge-based SMEs from developing countries. Analysis results suggest the importance of the relational perspective in explaining the initial internationalization, market selection and internationalization speed of the investigated software firms. It emerged that the case firms either reacted to the cross-border opportunities offered by their relational contacts or proactively pursued overseas opportunities through existing and newly developed relationships. Their market entry decisions and internationalization pace also appear to have been influenced by these relationships. Both social and business networks were found to be important, but social ties seemed more influential at initial stages, with business networks becoming more dominant subsequently. The article concludes with appropriate recommendations for managerial decision making and future research.
- small and medium enterprises
- software firms