• Rubens Pauluzzo
  • Bin Shen
Part of the International Series in Advanced Management Studies book series (ISAMS)


This chapter examines the central role played by SMEs in national economies around the world, creating employment and value added. More specifically, the chapter provides a synthesis of the current situation of SMEs in Europe, with particular reference to Italy, and their contributions to economic and social well-being. It also introduces the specific characteristics of SMEs and the opportunities and challenges they face in a globalized and digital world. In looking at the main aspects of the internationalization processes of SMEs, the chapter considers the barriers that small companies face when dealing with the Chinese market. While most part of the literature has focused its attention on examining MNCs, the challenges faced by SMEs have been neglected. The Chinese market is huge, complicated, opaque, and hyper-competitive. Over the past forty years, China’s economic reforms have been successful, making it become a major economic power. However, in the last few years, China’s economic growth has fallen from the double-digit rate and China has entered a ‘new normal’ phase, which highlights key transitions and shifts in policies to rebalance its economy to achieve a slower, but more sustainable, economic development.


  1. Acton, Q. A. (Ed.). (2013). Issues in entrepreneurship and small business. Atlanta: ScholarlyEditions.Google Scholar
  2. Alon, I. (Ed.). (2003). Chinese culture, organizational behavior, and international business management. Westport: Praeger Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Bauéè, C.-E. (2011). China’s management revolution. Spirit, land, energy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  4. Boos, E., Boos, C., & Sieren, F. (2003). The China management handbook. A comprehensive question and answer guide to the world’s most important emerging market. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  5. Brahm, L. J. (2004). Doing business in China. The Sun Tzu way. North Clarendon: Tuttle Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Calcagnini, G., & Favaretto, I. (Eds.). (2012). Small businesses in the aftermath of the crisis. International analyses and policies. Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  7. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (2017). The 2016 World Factbook. Retrieved September 25, 2017, from
  8. Chee, H., & West, C. (2007). Myths about doing business in China. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises. (2003/361/EC). Official Journal of the European Union. L. 124/36, 20 May 2003.Google Scholar
  10. Dahles, H., & Wels, H. (Eds.). (2002). Culture, organization and management in East Asia. Doing business in China. Hauppauge: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Dana, L.-P., Welpe, I. M., Han, M., & Ratten, V. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of research on European business and entrepreneurship. Towards a theory of internationalization. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  12. Dunung, S. P. (2015). Doing business in China. New York: Atma Global.Google Scholar
  13. Etemad, H. (Ed.). (2004). International entrepreneurship in small and medium size enterprises. Orientation, environment and strategy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  14. European Commission (EC). (2017). 2016 SBA Fact Sheet, Italy.Google Scholar
  15. Ghauri, P. N., & Kirpalani Manek, V. H. (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of research on international entrepreneurship strategy. Improving SME performance globally. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  16. Haour, G., & Von Zedtwitz, M. (2016). Created in China. How China is becoming a global innovator. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  17. Hofer, M. B., & Ebel, B. (Eds.). (2006). Business success in China. Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Hofstede, G. H., & Bond, M. H. (1988). The confucius connection: From cultural roots to economic growth. Organizational Dynamics, 16, 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Howell, P. (2012). The small business guide to China. How small enterprises can sell their goods or services to markets in China. Petersfield: Brightword.Google Scholar
  20. International Monetary Fund (IMF). (2017). People’s Republic of China. IMF Country Report No. 17/247. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  21. Jones, M. V., Dimitratos, P., Fletcher, M., & Young, S. (Eds.). (2009). Internationalization, entrepreneurship and the smaller firm. Evidence from around the world. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  22. Kelley, L., & Shenkar, O. (Eds.). (2006). International business in China. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Lernoux, F., Boschmans, K., Bouyon, S., Martin, I., & Van Caillie, D. (2012). Internationalisation of SMEs. How to succeed abroad. Brussels: De Boeck&Larcier.Google Scholar
  24. Lind, P. (2012). Small business management in cross-cultural environments. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Lynch Street, N., & Matelski, M. J. (2003). American businesses in China. Balancing culture and communication. Jefferson: McFarland & Company.Google Scholar
  26. McGregor, J. (2007). Lessons from the front lines of doing business in China. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  27. Muller, P., Devnani, S., Julius, J., Gagliardi, D., & Marzocchi, C. (2016). European Commission Annual Report on European SMEs 2015/2016: SME recovery continues.Google Scholar
  28. Murray, G. (1994). Doing business in China. The last great market. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC). (2017). China Statistical Yearbook 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2017, from
  30. Noorderhaven, N., Koen, C., & Sorge, A. (2015). Comparative international management. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Nummela, N. (Ed.). (2011). International growth of small and medium enterprises. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Olejnik, E. (2014). International small and medium-sized enterprises. Internationalization patterns, mode changes, configurations and success factors. Wiesbaden: Springer.Google Scholar
  33. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2016). OECD science, technology and innovation outlook 2016. Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  34. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2017). Financing SMEs and entrepreneurs 2017. An OECD scoreboard. Paris: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  35. Pomeranz, C. (2000). The great divergence. China, Europe and the making of the modern world economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Prange, C. (Ed.). (2016). Market entry in China. Case studies on strategy, marketing, and branding. Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  37. Prashantham, S. (2008). The internationalization of small firms. A strategic entrepreneurship perspective. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Schlevogt, K.-A. (2002). The art of Chinese management: Theory, evidence, and applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Susman, G. I. (Ed.). (2007). Small and medium-sized enterprises and the global economy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  40. Taylor, R. (Ed.). (2012). International business in China. Understanding the global economic crisis. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Tian, X. (2016). Managing international business in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Trompenaars, F., & Hampden-Turner, C. (1998). Riding the waves of culture. Understanding diversity in global business. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  43. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). (2017). World Investment Report 2017. Investment and the digital economy. Geneva: United Nations Publications.Google Scholar
  44. Wang, S. (Ed.). (2005). Management decision. Chinese management reflections, trends and opportunities. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.Google Scholar
  45. Warner, M. (Ed.). (2013). Managing across diverse cultures in East Asia. Issues and challenges in a changing globalized world. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Warner, M. (Ed.). (2014). Culture and management in Asia. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Warner, M., & Rowley, C. (Eds.). (2011). Chinese management in the “Harmonious Society”. Managers, markets and the globalized economy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Zhang, Y., & Keister, L. A. (2016). Management and organizations in transitional China. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and StatisticsUniversity of UdineUdineItaly
  2. 2.Glorious Sun School of Business and ManagementDonghua UniversityShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations