The Internationalisation of Food and Drink SMEs:
: Towards a Recipe for Success

  • Robert Bowen

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research provides an investigation of the critical success factors of SMEinternationalisation within the food and drink industry. Since the seminal works of the Uppsala scholars (Johanson & Wiedersheim-Paul, 1975; Johanson & Vahlne, 1977), SME internationalisation has developed as a field in recent decades with numerous studies investigating different theories across a range of industries and locations. The purpose of this study is to contribute to research in this field by investigating specific issues for food and drink SMEs, as there is an increasing need to focus research on specific research contexts (Fillis, 2008). Considering the close associations that exist between food and place (Tregear, 2001), the role of place is incorporated with traditional theories of SME internationalisation in a conceptual framework designed to reflect the critical success factors of food and drink SME internationalisation. A mixed methods study, both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to gather and analyse data from food and drink producers in two independent phases. Wales and Brittany were chosen as case studies for this study, with both regions sharing cultural and geographical characteristics as regions where the food and drink industry is a prominent part of the economy. Findings of the study highlight that most companies, regardless of size and location, have the ability to internationalise, provided that the conditions for internationalisation are supportive for companies that wish to do so. The study identifies 4 company types that describe companies in relation to their international activities, ranging from improbable exporters to proactive exporters. Findings of the study culminate in the creation of two models, which outline the conditions required for internationalisation and the process in which a company can develop international activities through awareness and networks.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorNerys Fuller-Love (Supervisor), Tiffany Low (Supervisor) & Nicholas Perdikis (Supervisor)

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