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Systematic Research


This report is to critical review a journal article, titled as ‘The role of management characteristics in the internationalisation of SMEs’ by Karise Hutchinson and Barry Quinn, School of Business, Retail and Financial Services, (university of Ulster, Colearine. UK) and Nicholas Alexander, Centre for research in Marketting, School of management and Business, (University of Whales, Aberystwyth, UK). The research was published in International Journal of Small Business and Enterprises Development, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2006.

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According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2003), the research is defined as “something people undertake in order to find out things in the systematic way, thereby increasing their knowledge”, Ghauri & Gronhaug (2002) in addition to it ‘Systematic Research’ it is based on logics and not relied on just beliefs (quoted in Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2003). For any type of research appropriate initial planning should be done for reaching expectation of the research objective. (Hague & Jackson, 1996). So according to this research – journal will be analyse in the report in orders to review that authors have conducted the research systematically by focusing on below key components:

1) Project Rationale

2) Literature Review

3) Research Paradigm & Design

4) Research Methods

5) Research Results & Presentation

Project Rationale

Research Rationale

According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2003), while choosing any research topic or idea should be connected with ‘rational thinking’ and ‘creative thinking’. In the given article the authors Hutchinson et. al (2006) have focus on internationalisation of SMEs in U.K retail sector. In this article author main focus on the evidence gathered from 9 establish international retail SMEs originating from the UK retail sector by Hutchinson et al. (2005). In this research the author have mentioned reviews of different author from different literature in relating to the internationalisation of SMEs. In supporting their literature review, author has taken the evidence of 9 established international retail SMEs companies case study within UK retail sector. In this article manager is presented as their main role because of the direct responsibility in decision making for SMEs, Also he is directly responsible for every decision. This article is highlighted the enlarging form of theoretical framework of Hutchinson et al. (2005). In the given article retailing is important for every country in between their production and consumption. If we go up in the past report from the last several years UK retail sector is keep growing and every year there is an increment of 15% from the next five years till 2011. (www.prospects.ac.uk). In the article the author states that international expansion is very important for every firm who deals in limited geographic area with their small financial base. Further study has also been recommended by many authors in internationalisation of SMEs like Iben (2003), Moini (1995). Moreover, this study is also highlighted the characteristics of founder and export relating decision in small firms Hutchinson et. al (2006).

In this study multiple case approaches in argument to s single case used in their result, also the use of in-depth study can be seen in this article . For gathering the data author have used qualitative techniques in his research where the author has used face- to -face semi -structured interviews with open- ended questions from the relevant person, company reports, and archival information. For secondary data author have used important evidence, which were analysed on the basis of the study. Hutchinson et. al (2006).

Research Aims and Objectives

Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2003) for every research researcher aim and objective should be clear at the same time it should provide purpose and direction of the research without setting aim and objective will divert the researcher from their study. The authors however showed the research aims and objectives in the research journal that can be summarised by the following:

Aim: The aim of this study is to specifically explore the role of management characteristics in the internationalisation of SMEs Hutchinson et. al (2006).

In order to reach his aim author have set the following objective:

To investigate the importance and impact of objective and subjective factor in decision making in the internationalisation of SMEs.

To explore the business skill, positive attitude to risk and the vision of the entrepreneur, ability to network can be useful valid indicators for the internationalisation of SMEs or not.

To explain how the importance of decision maker in internationalisation of SMEs.



In this article author have conducted the literature review mostly from “secondary literature sources” i.e books, journals, article also ‘primary literature source’ from face-to-face interviews with relevant person, open-ended semi-structured approach, analysing their company report.

Author has used all the relevant data, which is derived from the evidence of case study in UK retail sector. Author has done beautifully research, which is directly link up with their key words. This article clearly present the different reviews of many writers for internationalisation of SMEs. Also author has taken the help of previous research by Hutchinson et al(2005) and present their result in finding the role of objective and subjective factors in the internationalisation of SMEs. This article has presented some example [(such as The Body Shop (Anita Roddick), Virgin (Richard Branson), Laure Ashley (Laura and Bernard Ashley)] of people who have positive risk taking attitude which is important factor in globalisation of SMEs Hutchinson et. al (2006).

Critical Literature Review

Literature Review is important because it helps the researcher itself to make his research more clear and understandable in better way. For this purpose the researcher first needs to justify to himself that the study is worth conducting. Review of existing body of literature does precisely that. In addition to it, the researchers should have a clear cut idea what he wants to do achieve in his research (Remenyi, Williams, Money & Swartz, 1998). By the term ‘critically’ analyse the literature review, Dee (2000) suggests that researcher should refer to work by 1) accepted experts or literature in that field, 2) select both supportive and unsupportive literature in a logical manner to the research area, 3) judge the importance of the literature by differentiating clearly between fact and opinion (quoted in Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2003).

Strong Points By Critical Literature Review:

By using different literature from different variety of sources, which make this research more understandable and clear towards the aim of the study.

By indication of the key word in introduction parts is fruitful and helpful in exploring the same topic also at the same time study make it clear that the author has doing his research with in their related topic.

By using the strong points of case study that the importance of manager in decision making in the internationalisation of SMEs Hutchinson et. al (2006).

Weak points:

In the given article literature used by the author is not up-to date most of the time article referred for the research are old.

In the given article author for his research has used previous research of the different authors, old journals, articles are very limited source in supporting their research. He could have come up with more author’s views for attaining their objective or make this study more effective.

The author have selected for his research 17 different international retail SMEs out of which he has taken only the evidence of 9 international SMEs in his research Hutchinson et. al (2006).

Research Paradigm & Design

Research Paradigm

According to Remenyi, Williams, Money & Swartz (1998) Research Paradigm it is of 4 types categories. First is Epistemology which focuses on the relationship between enquirer and known, second is Ontology which focuses on humanity and social reality. Third is Human Nature which focuses on human nature and environmental and last is Methodology which focuses on approaches to evidence collection.

According to the article author have used Epistemology as research paradigm for his research. The reason behind is author has put focus on how does the decision of manager important in globalisation of SMEs. Moreover, to this by conduction face-to-face interviews, open-ended questions with relevant person is fully link in between the enquirer and known from this point’s research is interpretive (Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 1989).

Research Design

A research design is a framework for conducting a research project as it contains the step-by-step procedure for obtaining important information to structure research problem. (Malhotra and brisks, 2007). Research design it contained many components like case study, experiments, survey, cross sectional studies, longitudinal studies, explanatory studies, descriptive studies, action research, ethnography, and grounded theory (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2003).

In the referred article author collected the data mainly from secondary source of strong points of evidence of case study, also from books, journals and expertise in order to find out the importance of 5 factors in the success and development of internationalisation of SMEs. Moreover, to reaching his aims he applied ‘Exploratory, Descriptive and Explanatory Studies’ in research design. According to SaundersLewis and Thornhill (2003) ‘Exploratory Studies is useful for clarifying and exploring the perception in that research from the way of different literature, by taking advices and help form experts. For attaining the aim of this research author identifies the role of manager in decision-making in development also refer different books of many authors. ‘Explanatory Studies means a situation to indentify the relationship between their variables. In this regard author has mentioned a meaning full title to their work, which shows that research in done in international SMEs in retail sector Hutchinson et. al (2006).

Research Approach

Deductive and Inductive are two types of approaches. According to Carson et al. (2005) deductive approach is based on the theoretical structure development for testing with statistical methods. This approach allows to the researcher to test the theory by observation or survey. While inductive approach focus on the shift of theory to data observation which sufficient sample size and validity of data. (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2003).

In this study author has used deductive approach because researchers has beautifully research with in their keyword also on the basis of evidence case study, by using exploratory study to connect with literature review in searching the data whether the business skills, positive risk attitude, ability to network, vision of the entrepreneur are factors in globalisations of SMEs. In addition to it author has clearly present different views of many authors that’s makes this research more sensible Hutchinson et. al (2006).

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Research Methodology

Research Strategy

According to Creswell (2003) research strategy is of three types; Qualitative Approach, Quantitative Approach and Mixed Methods Approach, as all these approaches are different from each other for collecting data, for getting results and data analysis. In this article the researcher for reaching their objectives employed Mixed Methods Approach as research strategy as the researcher collected both quantitative and qualitative data.

For Qualitative approach author have used several authors opinions, previous research report, face-to face interviews, open-ended semi-structured questionnaire in drawing their conclusion. For Quantitative approach researcher has taken 9 establish international SMEs case study Hutchinson et. al (2006).

Data Collection Methods:

According to the McDaniel and Gate (2001) there are two ways of collecting the data; 1) Primary Data: In this data is collected for the first time for the research such as observations, experimentation and survey research. 2) Secondary Data: It is the previously researched data collected from different types of sources such as, journals, internet database, company report or website or any researcher report etc.

In this author has mainly use secondary data for gathering information from books, journals, previously and report on the same topic. Author also used evidence of establish international SMEs case study.

Strength & Weakness of Research Methodology:

In the article the researcher for doing the research used Deductive approach as the research approach, for research design used Exploratory, Descriptive and Explanatory Studies, Qualitative research as research strategy and for collection of the data used secondary data for conducting the research. There are some strength and weakness in the research, which are as follows:

Strong points:

By using in-depth case study, multiple case approach make more understandable in achieving their aim and objectives of this research. Moreover, this study is in the context of small and medium size firm SMEs, which focus on aim of the study.

Beautifully present the domestic and international activities of all 9 companies by dividing into 4 different retail sectors also put emphasis on formal contact because to avoid small size firm with in strange market.

In the given article author have clearly mentioned the expand work of Hutichinson et al. (2005). In addition to it author has beautifully identify the gap in the study.

Given study clears that both formal and informal contact is necessary for internationalisation of SMEs by using this contact he could have done it better or very easy in setting up firm branch overseas Hutchinson et. al (2006).

Weak points:

By using less quantitative and objective technique can be seen in this article. So we can say that there is lack of real information. In secondary research he could have done something more to add the data in his research to make his research relevant in terms of if someone read this article then he can easily understand the result derive from secondary data is relevant by using proper data.

From the sample of 17 companies choosing only 9 established international retail SMEs whose sale turnover is less then 25 millions that make this research more difficult in drawing their result or not realistic.

By using uneven samples categories in conducting their research such as small, medium and large, if he want to do research in my viewpoint he could have to choose one categories with one sector that’s makes easy or clearer in understanding. None of the sample is similar to anyone, so on this basis it clears that the result arrive from research is not so relevant. If the make the sample of 17 internationalised companies then study prove to be more relevant.

Also in primary research author he could have come up with more face-to face interviews, with more questioners so that the conclusion can draw easily Hutchinson et. al (2006).


Relative Value and Context result

In this article author’s research result has appropriate link to the key words of the topic that has been mentioned in the literature review by researcher. In the result author has successfully proposed their study in different section from their domestic turnover wise which provides total description for both domestic and international activities of all 9 companies and it is fully interpretive in nature. In addition to it author has clearly relate to objective managerial characteristics to decision maker ability, global experience and business skills, also choices of choosing foreign market defers from case to case in the expansion of internationalisation of SMEs. This study proves that the pivotal role of manager in the internationalisation of SMEs in UK retail sector. In this study author has also clear the importance role of both formal and informal contact are important factors in the early expansion and development of business overseas. Also author has taken uneven sample of companies that some company has only two branches in overseas and some having more then 30 branch worldwide. All the 9 companies taken by author are in the favour of positive decision in the overall business performance. This research successfully proves the close relationship between characteristics of decision maker and inclination to initiate and develop international activity

Moreover, after reaching the result author has also given implication for manger for both public and private support organisation. By giving importance to customer service which proves the importance of business skill in retailing and branding this asserts the importance of management knowledge of the international retail business environment Hutchinson et. al (2006).

Presentation Structures

In the referred article author presented very beautifully structure to his article so that it is easy to clear the main aim and objective of this research and after that he presented step-by-step link up with research topic and his key words that already clearly mentioned by researcher in the abstract part. In presenting all reviews of different authors turn his study in more realistic way then moved to explaining the objective and subjective factors in decision making in internationalisation of SMEs then gave their conclusion. For making his research more effective and authentic author has taken the help of good examples and with good arguments. In the given article researcher has used the strong points of evidence of case study that makes study more effective and easy to understand Hutchinson et. al (2006).


After completed critically analysis in this research, in my viewpoint this research gave us a lot of knowledge about the importance of decision maters in internationalisation of SMEs. Moreover, author has also given the implication for manager in both public and private support companies. He has also mentioned at what certain both formal and informal contact matters when company initially opening their firm in overseas.

Moreover, to this results are very general. By making his research more effective he could have compare more then one sector but still this study is interesting and need a lot to do in further research. Author has beautifully identified the gap of the study. By adding regression analysis, graphs or charts or some other useful tool attached to he appendix in finding the result to get the idea easily and clearly Hutchinson et. al (2006).


Carson, D et.al (2005) Qualitative Marketing Research. London, SAGE Publications Ltd.

Creswell, J., W. (2003), ‘Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches’, 2nd ed., California: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Malhotra, N. and Birks, D. (2007), ‘Marketing Research: An applied approach.’ 3rd ed., Prentice Hall, Financial times.

McDaniel, C. & Gate, R. (2001), ‘Marketing Research Essentials’, 3rd ed., Ohio: South-Western College Publishing.

Remenyi, D., Williams, B., Money, A. & Swartz, E. (1998), ‘Doing Research in Business and Management: An Introduction to Process and Method’, London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2003), ‘Research Methods for Business Students’, 3rd ed., Essex: Pearson Education Limited.



Quinn, B., Hutchinson, K. and Alexander, N. (1998), ‘The role of management characteristics in the internationalisation of SMEs’ :Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development Vol. 13 No. 4


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