The internationalisation of owner-managed firms: An exploration of owner-managers' experiences, leadership roles and preferred strategies in the German Mittelstand

Schönbauer, Andreas Fabian (2023) The internationalisation of owner-managed firms: An exploration of owner-managers' experiences, leadership roles and preferred strategies in the German Mittelstand. DBA thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/9ZB4PP66

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The research presented in this thesis explores the experiences, leadership roles and perceived critical success factors of a sample of owner-managers of the German Mittelstand regarding internationalisation. The broad aim of the research was to gain a richer understanding of those drivers, specifically the behavioural characteristics and appropriate strategies of owner-managers. In line with the research aim of understanding subjective experiences, attitudes and other subjective phenomena in depth, a relativist ontological stance and an interpretivist epistemological position were adopted, requiring a qualitative mode of inquiry. Informing the research design, an intensive literature review was carried out. Special focus was given to topics such as internationalisation within the German Mittelstand, drivers and patterns of internationalisation, the roles and influence of owner-managers, and country of origin effects. The review confirmed that there have been few in-depth, interview-based studies of German Mittelstand internationalisation, particularly regarding the role and influence of owner-managers, and that ´Made in Germany` was a neglected topic. In general, knowledge in this field is limited by a lack of empirical research at a qualitative level. Following exploratory research, the main fieldwork consisted of 17 semi-structured in-depth interviews with owner-managers of successfully internationalised firms from diverse German Mittelstand industries, and a very wide range of business ages, sizes and turnover. The interviews focused on the history of each firm’s internationalisation and the personal experiences and beliefs of each owner-manager regarding critical success factors in internationalisation. This research generated numerous interesting findings and made contributions to existing knowledge in respect of theoretical aspects of internationalisation, specifically adding richness to understanding of the role of the owner-manager in internationalisation. The research will also contribute to a richer understanding of the striking internationalisation success of German Mittelstand businesses, and the insights gained may also be of considerable practical value, not only for German Mittelstand firms but also for UK-based firms in the post-Brexit world.

Item Type: Thesis (DBA)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Uncontrolled Keywords: German Mittlestand industries; Owner-managers; Leadership; Internationalisation; Drivers
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD2340.8 Small and Medium-sized businesses, artisans, handcrafts, trades
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2024 14:58
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 11:15

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