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Bridging Intellectual Capital and SMEs Internationalization through the Lens of Sustainable Competitive Advantage: A Systematic Literature Review

Elena-Mădălina Vătămănescu (), Elena-Alexandra Gorgos (), Alexandru Mihai Ghigiu () and Monica Pătruț ()
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Elena-Mădălina Vătămănescu: Faculty of Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, 012104 Bucharest, Romania
Elena-Alexandra Gorgos: Center for Research in Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, 012104 Bucharest, Romania
Alexandru Mihai Ghigiu: The Department of International Relations and European Integration, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, 012104 Bucharest, Romania
Monica Pătruț: Faculty of Letters, “Vasile Alecsandri” University of Bacău, 600114 Bacău, Romania

Sustainability, 2019, vol. 11, issue 9, 1-22

Abstract: The aim of the current paper is advance a comprehensive framework meant to bridge three major concepts, namely intellectual capital (IC), the internationalization process of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the achievement of sustainable competitive advantage. The paper stresses upon a managerial perspective within the internationalization context, investigating the human, structural and relational capital apposite to managers or entrepreneurs. By directly addressing the relationships among the constructs, the endeavor is complementary to previous systematic reviews on similar topics which tangentially discuss the conceptual triad and thus proposes an integrative research agenda for future interdisciplinary studies straddling the fields of management, business, entrepreneurship and sustainability. In terms of methodology, a systematic literature review was envisaged, by applying a stepwise approach and multifold criteria. Over 100 scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals were scrutinized and considered in the analysis. The literature review revealed that conceptual papers in the field are scarce despite the variety of their aims and approaches. The quantitative-based empirical studies prevail over the qualitative ones, while mixed methods research designs are scant. In terms of content, the extant studies fall short to advance research and structural models testing and assessing the specific relations among constructs and avail new research avenues focused on the underlying processes of SMEs internationalization by means of intellectual capital harnessing and sustainable competitive advantage achievement.

Keywords: intellectual capital (IC); small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); internationalization; sustainable competitive advantage (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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