It is widely recognized that internationalisation is important in fulfilling and sustaining growth potential, especially for SMEs. Yet, evidence suggests that for many SMEs, exporting is often a rather opportunistic and episodic activity, rather than a continuous process.

Building on previous ERC work on the determinants of intermittent exporting and on learning by exporting, this project will examine how different irregular versus persistent export patterns in export volume, product and destination impact on SME learning-by-exporting and productivity change.

Initial analysis will use data covering almost the entire population of French firms sourced from the FICUS database spanning the period 1997-2007. If possible, HMRC export destination data at 4-digit product level will also be used, which will permit more fine-grained analysis for the UK.
The project will provide a deeper understanding of the effects of different exporting profiles on SME productivity and growth and add to our understanding of the learning-by-exporting effect: e.g. does intermittent exporting lead to sporadic ‘learning’ and episodic productivity growth?

Project Seminar – December  2016

The ERC held a project day on 13th December 2016 at the WBS offices in The Shard. The day was split into two sessions. During the afternoon we held initial stakeholder meetings for Projects 6-9. The event was attended by over 40 stakeholders, and generated interesting discussion and useful feedback to help inform the research.

Project 6 – Productivity and Internationalisation in  SMEs.

A brief presentation from Jim Love provided an overview of the project, key research questions and data to be used. At the meeting it was clarified that work would concentrate on analysing UK data to examine the link between exporting, innovation and growth in SMEs.  Research will start initially on the Longitudinal Small Business Study (including wave 2 when available), and would examine how different patterns of exporting (continuous, intermittent, early internationalisation etc) affect growth, and how these different patterns interact with innovation performance.  Work will also take place on the effect that public support or innovation and exporting have on growth and productivity.

Analysis will subsequently switch to the analysis of HMRC data, allowing the researchers to perform two types of analysis.  First, building export histories of UK SMEs using the customs and trade databases. For each firm this will involve data on product category, value, year and national market. This will provide new insights into the nature of export development in SMEs and whether there is evidence of learning effects as firms move from local to more challenging distant export markets.  Second, export histories will be combined with performance data from the Business Structure Database and/or HMRC Corporation Tax dataset and VAT datasets to examine the timing and causal influence of exporting on performance. This will allow us to consider in more detail issues such as early internationalisation and intermittent exporting.

Research Showcase. June 2017

The ERC held a Research Showcase on June 20th 2017 at RSA House in London.
The agenda of the day reflected the range of research we are currently undertaking at the Centre. The aim was to share our research insights and ideas with our key stakeholders, and to engage in dialogue with them about these. The showcase generated lively discussion and we are very grateful for the excellent engagement from our stakeholders, whose insights will shape and strengthen the final project outputs.

Project 6 Interim report Project 6-One page summary

We are always happy to receive feedback from stakeholders on our research. If you would like to submit a comment, or  you would like to be involved in future ERC research events, please email Dr Vicki Belt, Deputy Director – impact and Engagement.  

CompletionNovember 2016
KeywordsInnovation, exporting, productivity, growth, SME
ThemeInnovation and Export