What’s so special about born globals, their entrepreneurs or their business model?

Jean-Francois Hennart, A. Majocchi, Birgit Hagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


There is near unanimity among international business scholars that it takes
more time to expand internationally than domestically. Hence, this is why some
are puzzled by born globals (BGs), firms that make large foreign sales at birth or
shortly afterwards. Explanations given for this ‘‘anomaly’’ are that BGs have
exceptional resources—advanced technologies and a high international
orientation on the part of their entrepreneurs, and that they rely on cheaper
internationalization strategies like the Internet and networks. What is almost
completely overlooked is the role of the BG’s business model (BM). We analyze
the time it took for a sample of Italian SMEs to reach BG status (25% foreign
over total sales) within a three-year time span. Entering both international
entrepreneurship (IE) and BM variables, we find that, among the IE variables, a
firm’s technological intensity, the number of years their founders studied
abroad and their foreign language fluency, as well as their use of domestic
networks, are statistically insignificant. Variables measuring a firm’s focus on a
niche BM, on the other hand, are statistically significant, along with the
international work experience of the founders, with the niche BM explaining a
higher level of variance with greater accuracy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1665-1694
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number9
Early online dateMay 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • born globals
  • internalization theory
  • survival analysis
  • business models
  • international entrepreneurship
  • Uppsala model


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