Workshop on Global Cities, Emerging Markets and SME Internationalization, 28 January

Professor Philippe Régnier, Political Economist specialized in Asian entrepreneurship and development studies, presented his current research project on Global Cities and Internationalization of Small and medium sized Enterprises (SME). The workshop was held at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and attracted a mixed audience consisting of academia from various fields and business representatives. Professor Régnier aimed at receiving inputs and finding possible cooperation partners for his research. The results of the project, what is supposed to be finished in 2016, will be fed into the next issue of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report, which is issued by the trilingual School of Management Fribourg in Switzerland.

SMEs are considered as one of the two pillars of the global competitiveness of the OECD economies. This applies especially for the case of Switzerland, which is ranked first in the World Competitiveness Ranking, although it is a very small economy without a significant domestic market. 99.7% of Swiss firms are SMEs, with 28% of them are “international”, which means they are selling abroad. Therefore the interest in factors for successful internationalization strategies is very high, in order to remain at the top. The fast growing markets in East Asia are more and more attractive to foreign SMEs. The vast emerging markets offer a lot of potential for especially specialized SMEs. But they are hesitant to internationalize as they face many difficulties in accessing distant and risky emerging markets.

The research project of Philippe Régnier therefore aims at learning more about the different internationalization strategies of SMEs to feed the results in policy advice and enhancing internationalization. A point of interest in this research is Global Cities (GC), like New York, London and Tokyo, which are the hubs of assembled services and facilities, manifesting a very high quality and well performing entrepreneurial eco-system. As major hubs GCs cannot only provide Business Development Services (BDS) to Multi National Companis (MNC), but also to SMEs especially in their process of internationalization. Many foreign (Swiss) perceive GCs as very costly business hubs and therefore don’t make use of the excellent network and services they provide. Professor Régnier’s project should proof that the quality and specialization offered by their network and services considerably reduce business costs and risks to be faced by SMEs. They provide trustworthy partnerships and therefore needed insider ship, contributing to a successful access and market entry to East Asia.

The matrix of SMEs and GCs, the starting point of Prof. Régnier’s research

The matrix of SMEs and GCs, the starting point of Prof. Régnier’s research

So far Singapore has been considered to be the major hub for foreign companies to enter into the East Asian market, but it is losing ranks to other GCs in Asia, like Tokyo and Hong Kong, and not to forget Shanghai. Thanks to the fast development of Shanghai, it has to be taken into account as a very important hub for the Chinese market. The good location, the biggest cargo port of the world and the Free Trade Zone contribute a lot to its locational advantage. As a result the exchange with local experts was highly appreciated by Prof Régnier and revealed the most difficult problem in doing research about the Chinese market, the unbelievable speed of development and changes.

- Contributed by Isabel Bolliger, Junior Project Leader