The negative influence of the entrepreneur’s level of higher education on the attractiveness of European SMEs as alliance partners in Brazil: the role of practical experience and international entrepreneurial orientation

Claudio De Mattos, Laura Salciuviene

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Notwithstanding the contemporary relevance of alliance strategies for SME internationalisation, especially in the case of uncertain business environments, few studies have investigated human resource issues in the context of SMEs prior to alliance formation. Even more scarce are studies looking at the impact of a manager/entrepreneur’s characteristics on pre-alliance formation, despite recognition of the expected crucial role of the entrepreneur in this context and of the strong connection between an entrepreneur and their SME. Drawing on international entrepreneurship theory and empirical observations from an exploratory study, we propose a post hoc conceptual model. The exploratory empirical part of our study employs a sample of entrepreneurs from biotechnology SMEs in the United Kingdom and Germany intending to ally in a large emerging market (i.e. Brazil). Our empirical observations suggest an anomalous (at first glance) negative association between the entrepreneur’s level of higher education (a construct at the individual level) and the attractiveness of the SME as a partner firm vis-à-vis alliance formation (a construct at the firm level). Our post hoc model emphasises the role of practical experience and the corresponding levels of international entrepreneurial orientation as theorised variables mediating the observed empirical relationship. We develop theoretical propositions, and suggest practical implications and future research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1997-2025
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number13
Early online date25 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


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