3 May 2005

University of Queensland Business School researchers will investigate small businesses that compete internationally from their earliest stages to understand the implications for the economy.

Known as ‘born globals’ since a landmark Australian study in 1993, these firms bypass domestic markets to bring highly innovative products to the world.

Professor of international business Peter Liesch said this new breed of small business seemed to bypass the dangers of the early growth stage usually experienced by firms operating in domestic markets.

He said: “Many traditional small businesses fail within the first three years because they experience severe resource constraints early on.

“Small businesses are a key contributor to the Australian economy. We hope to identify ways that domestic operators can acquire, reconfigure, and exploit their capabilities to achieve positional advantages in international markets.”

Dr Jay Weerawardena, who coordinates the project, said the results were likely to influence policy development.

“We hope the results may help prevent some small business collapses by educating business owners.”, he said.

“We argue that the competitive capability-building process of these firms starts well before their legal birth. We want to find out how dynamic capabilities are built and nurtured in these firms and how such capabilities drive their rapid internationalisation.

The born-global firm is a universal phenomenon. Born-globals can be found in all major trading countries and across all industry sectors but the factors that drive their rapid internationalisation is not well-understood.

Researchers Dr Jay Weerawardena and Professor Peter Liesch will work with colleagues from Griffith University in Brisbane and Florida State University in the US. The project is funded by a prestigious three-year Australian Research Council Discovery grant.

For more information contact

Dr Jay Weerawardena
Phone (07) 3365 6674
E-mail j.weerawardena@business.uq.edu.au

Professor Peter Liesch
Phone (07) 3365 7209
E-mail p.liesch@business.uq.edu.au

Cathy Stacey
Phone (07) 3365 6179
E-mail c.stacey@business.uq.edu.au