05 : The Internationalization of Thuringian Start-up Companies in High-Technology Industries
In 2002 a survey conducted by the University of Applied Sciences Jena pointed out that many young technology-based firms in the Free State of Thuringia in Germany strive for international contacts. 50% of the enterprises that have been surveyed operated internationally, 40 % intends to establish inter-national business contacts. The export of goods and services was the most specified activity, followed by the implementation of joint research & development projects with foreign partners. Based on this survey the entrepreneurs of several firms were chosen for an oral interview with the intention to receive detailed information about why and how they strive for international contacts. The present article presents the results of this investigation and draws conclusions in order to make a contribution to the development of an integrated theory of International Entrepreneurship and to give recommendations to managers of SMEs as well as to entrepreneurs. It has four parts. The first part gives an overview of existing explanations and theories on the internationalization of SMEs. The second part describes three cases of international-oriented start-up companies from Thuringia. In the third part the authors draw conclusions from their investigation and try to give an answer on how the presented cases fit into existing theories of the internationalization of start-up companies and on whether these explanations have to be adjusted and extended. Finally some aspects that companies should take into account when going global are discussed.