Multinationalisation of SMEs easier than ever-costs no longer an object

Meagre resources do not prevent SMEs from opening offices on the foreign market. This is the outcome of a dissertation about to undergo a public examination at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). Changes in the professional culture and technological development enable opening offices in one or more foreign market areas.

The study indicates that opening an office requires little investments, as companies are able to rent shared or communal office spaces in the early stages of multinationalisation. Even though practical work is carried out in different locations around the world, daily operations can be coordinated with free-of-charge or low-cost online tools, which can be used for both communication and to monitor offices.

The study revealed that opening new offices on foreign markets is clearly advantageous for SMEs. It gives companies an opportunity to be close to their most important clients and partners and use the partnerships to develop their own activity and achieve a competitive edge. Nevertheless, this does not mean the company is unimportant to the country in which it is based, as its official home office and the majority of its employees are still there. It may be easier for SMEs to coordinate operations abroad because foreign offices are often smaller and often grow into the company's operating culture from the start.

The study was conducted by Heini Vanninen, M.Sc. (Econ. & Bus. Admin.), who also examined the public-sector aids and guidance available to companies. Support for internationalisation strongly emphasises export and other indirect forms of internalisation, and short visits abroad. This may limit the management's thinking regarding the possibilities of internationalisation.

According to Vanninen, internationalisation support should take different opportunities and alternatives into account.

"For example, New Zealand supports multinationalisation with the Kiwi Landing Pad, which is a collective work space in San Francisco for SMEs interested in expanding to the US. The companies have their head office and a strong foundation in New Zealand, but gain from a long-term or permanent presence in another market area.

Heini Vanninen, M.Sc. (Tech.), will defend her dissertation entitled Micromultinationals - Antecedents, processes and outcomes of the multinationalization of small- and medium-sized firms in the field of business administration on 6 October 2017 at 12.00 noon in the Suvorov auditorium of the IVH Kampus. Professor Pavlos Dimitratos from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, will act as the opponent. Professor Olli Kuivalainen from Lappeenranta University of Technology will be acting as the custos.

The dissertation has been published in the university's publication series Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis, publication number 763. ISBN 978-952-335-126-4 and ISSN 1456-4491. A copy of the dissertation can be downloaded from the LUTPub database: Printed copies can be purchased from the Aalef bookstore, tel. +358 44 744 5511 or kirjakauppa(at), and from the LUT Shop online store at

Doctoral candidate:

Name: Heini Vanninen

Year and place of birth: 1986, Anjalankoski, Finland

Domicile: Lappeenranta

Education: Master of Science (Economics and Business Administration), LUT, 2005-2010

Career history: 2013–, Junior Researcher, Lappeenranta University of Technology

Further information:

Heini Vanninen, +358 40 7232951,