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The emergence process of an international network of SMEs and the evolution of the leader’s role

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This research focuses on the evolution of the leader’s role in the emergence of an international network of SMEs. A longitudinal study was conducted among SMEs wishing to develop an international network in Tunisia. A number of SME managers among with some collaborators and partners involved in the project were interviewed. The study reveals the evolution of a leader’s entrepreneurial competencies as this network evolves along several stages. Three key stages have been highlighted: identifying an opportunity for an international network driven by a visionary leader whose main characteristic is curiosity; assessing the opportunity, based on a consolidating leader whose main characteristic is leadership; and exploiting the opportunity, requiring a federating leader whose main characteristic is empathy. A process makes it possible to identify the evolution of competencies, highlighting 3 key characteristics: curiosity, leadership and empathy mobilized throughout the emergence of this network.


Cette recherche porte sur l’évolution du rôle du dirigeant dans l’émergence d’un réseau international de PME. Une étude longitudinale a été menée auprès de PME souhaitant développer un réseau international en Tunisie. Un certain nombre de dirigeants de PME, parmi lesquels des collaborateurs et des partenaires impliqués dans le projet, ont été interrogés. L’étude du cas révèle l’évolution des compétences entrepreneuriales d’un dirigeant au fil de plusieurs étapes : identifier l’opportunité d’un réseau international fondée sur un dirigeant visionnaire dont la caractéristique principale est la curiosité, évaluer cette opportunité, basée sur un dirigeant consolidateur dont la caractéristique principale est le leadership, et exploiter cette opportunité, nécessitant un dirigeant fédérateur dont la caractéristique principale est l’empathie. Le processus permet d’identifier l’évolution des compétences en mettant en évidence 3 caractéristiques clés: la curiosité, le leadership et l’empathie mobilisés tout au long de l’émergence de ce réseau.

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Correspondence to Virginie Gallego-Roquelaure.

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Gallego-Roquelaure, V. The emergence process of an international network of SMEs and the evolution of the leader’s role. J Int Entrep (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10843-019-00258-z

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  • International network
  • Leadership
  • Resource-based view
  • SMEs

Mots clés

  • Réseau international
  • Leadership
  • Resource-Based-View
  • PME