Early internationalizing firms: 2004–2018

  • Rubina RomanelloEmail author
  • Maria Chiarvesio


The literature on early internationalization has evolved rapidly in the last few decades. Firms that achieve early and rapid internationalization have emerged as newcomers in the international arena. Disclosed in the late 1980s, international new ventures and born globals today are well known by academics, practitioners, and policymakers. However, the rapid evolution of literature on this topic has produced a considerable corpus of articles in just a few years, discouraging the realization of iterative and thematic analyses. Existing reviews have analyzed the first decade of research or some peculiar aspects of early internationalizing firms or have been focused on the wider international entrepreneurship domain. This article complements previous studies by reviewing the literature on early internationalizing firms over the years 2004–2018. The authors develop a systematic review of 280 studies investigating born globals, international new ventures, and early internationalizing firms that were published in leading journals in the field of international entrepreneurship. The goals of the review are as follows: to describe the state of the art of the literature on early internationalizing firms, to identify the themes that recurred during this period, and to highlight trends and future research perspectives in the field. As one of the implications, this study aims at serving as a summary and starting point for scholars and practitioners interested in early internationalization phenomenon.


Early internationalizing firms International new venture Born global Early internationalization Review 


La littérature du début de l’internalisation s’est développé rapidement ces dernières décénies. Les entreprises qui ont atteint une rapide internalisation, sont apparues en tant que nouveaux arrivants dans le domaine de l’internalisation. L’étude concerne la fin des années 80, où de nouvelles entreprises avec la vocation d’être internationales sont connues aujourd’hui par les chercheurs, les practiciens et les décideurs. Toutefois, l’evolution rapide de la littérature sur ce sujet a produit une quantité importante d’articles en quelques années, décourageant la réalisation des analyses itératives et thématiques. Des examens actuels ont analysé la première décennie de recherche sur le début de l’internalisation d’entreprises et le contexte international plus large dans le domaine de l’entreprenariat. Cette étude complète étend la recherche à une réaxamination du début de la littérature de l’internalisation des entreprises dans les années 2004–2018. Les auteurs développent une révision systématique de 280 études en enquêtant sur les entreprises à vocation internationale publiées dans des journaux de renom dans le secteur de l’entreprenariat international. Le but de cette révision est de décrire l’état actuel de la littérature du début de l’internalisation qui constitue un résumé et un point de départ pour des chercheurs qui analyse ce phénomène. Après la présentation des résultats de cette analyse, sont traités des thèmes récurrents, des lacunes de la littérature et des recherches futurs.

JEL classification




We would like to kindly acknowledge the Editor Dr. Hamid Etemad for his endless support and his useful suggestions during the development of this research. We are also extremely grateful to the four reviewers for providing detailed, rich, and helpful reviews during the revision process.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and StatisticsUniversity of UdineUdineItaly

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