Linking SME International Marketing Agility to New Technology Adoption

Olimpia C. Racela and Amonrat Thoumrungroje reflect on their paper, “Linking SME international marketing agility to new technology adoption,” published in the International Small Business Journal: Researching Entrepreneurship

This research was motivated by the fact that most economies in the world, despite the levels of economic development, are driven by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Yet, little is known about their capabilities, strategies, and behaviours, particularly in the case of SMEs from emerging economies, whose contributions to the world economy have been on the rise.  In addition, the rapid developments in communication and transportation technologies have disruptively altered business management and operations. Therefore, adopting new technology has been inevitable. With the liability of smallness, the adoption of new technology may depend more on certain types of capabilities inherent in SMEs than on financial resources which are their major constraints. Based on prior literature, the concept of ‘agility’ seems to draw attention to one of the main advantages of small firms.

Therefore, this study focused on pinpointing this specific type of capability in the context of SME exporters from an emerging economy, and provided an alternative conceptualization and operationalization of ‘international marketing agility’ (IMA) as a second-order dynamic capability which was proposed to enhance adoption of new technology.

Olimpia C. Racela and Amonrat Thoumrungroje
Olimpia C. Racela, left, and Amonrat Thoumrungroje

Since the exporting sector is a primary growth driver of many emerging economies such as Thailand, this study specifically collected data from Thai exporters and investigated how IMA may relate to the adoption of new technology, namely the internet-enabled inventory management systems (IIMS). Consistent with our postulations based on the dynamic capabilities perspective, our findings indicated that IMA enabled SMEs to develop, integrate and reconfigure resources through the three first-order capabilities of overseas market-sensing, decision-making flexibility, and international marketing adaptability, and eventually enhanced new technology adoption.

This link between IMA and new technology adoption was also found to be contingent upon SME exporter perceptions of relative advantage and complexity of the new technology. The greatest challenge in conducting this research besides getting a sufficient number of SME exporters to participate in the survey was the rigor in conceptualizing and operationalizing IMA. It is hoped that future research explores IMA in other contexts beyond SME exporters and emerging economies to further validate the construct. Researchers interested in pursuing this line of inquiry may investigate other strategic and behavioral imperatives of IMA to advance international business and marketing theories.

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Olimpia C Racela and Amonrat Thoumrungroje

Olimpia Cavosora Racela (pictured) is an assistant professor at Mahidol University International College and program director of the marketing major.

Amonrat Thoumrungroje is an assistant professor and full-time lecturer in the Department of International Business Management, Assumption University.

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