The Perceived Importance of the Changing Political Environment on SME Market Entry: New Zealand SMEs Entering the United States

Ward, Deborah
Hurd, Fiona
Nagar, Swati
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

The central aim of this study is to explore the perceptions of New Zealand small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have recently experienced internationalisation into the United States (US). The reason for this is to understand if changes to the political environment have been perceived to have an influence on these firms and their approach. Above all, the primary objective focuses on the importance of the changing political environment on New Zealand SMEs, specifically a notable rise in protectionism (Enderwick, 2011). Notwithstanding important research that exists within international business on the relevance of SMEs, and entry strategies that these firms adopt, a lack of understanding exists on current perceptions of political change and how firms are responding to this change. Therefore, this research topic explores: The perceived importance of the changing political environment on SME market entry: New Zealand SMEs entering the United States. Sub questions include: 1) How do New Zealand SMEs perceive changes in the US political environment? 2) How do New Zealand SMEs change their approach to the US market, in light of the changing political environment? Theoretical frameworks included to give shape to the research are: the Resource-Based View (RBV), Dynamic Capabilities, Networking Theory, Adaption-Innovation Theory and Institutional Theory.

An interpretivist paradigm is adopted for this study, supported by a relativist ontology and a constructivist epistemology. This exploratory research follows a multiple case study methodology involving three cases. Primary data was collected through conducting semi-structured interviews, with one participant from each firm who was responsible for international business decisions. Moreover, secondary data was obtained for this research through a variety of documentation such as government websites and company reports. The analytical strategy adopts thematic analysis, in order to present the finding of this research. The findings from both within and across cases identified central themes related to use of intangible resources including market opportunities, high profile networking and relationships, institutional influences, and knowledge and experience related to adaptive capacity in social, political and regulatory aspects. They also identified perceptions of potential future reactions to political changes. The study concludes with the identification and interpretation of the emerging themes to present insights into the approach of SMEs within the changing US political environment. This research provides a valuable contribution to scholarship or academic literature and the New Zealand and international business communities, as well as including suggestions for future research.

Protectionism , Political Environment , Resource-Based View (RBV) , Dynamic Capabilities , Networking Theory , Adaption-Innovation Theory , Institutional Theory , USA , New Zealand
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