Navigating liminality in new venture internationalization

Shameen Prashantham (First Author), Steven W. Floyd (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal

28 Citations (Web of Science)


Prior research describes international expansion as a series of discrete steps and notes that taking them threatens new ventures' survival, especially due to unexpected setbacks. Seen through the lens of social science, the source of such threat becomes clearer. In this paper, we argue that internationalization in new ventures involves what social anthropologists call a liminal transition – a betwixt-and-between period lying between the intent to internationalize and the realization of a stable internationalized state. The ambiguous and transitory nature of this liminal transition has the potential to increase the odds of overreach (e.g. a high-cost market entry without sufficient resources). Avoiding the negative influence of liminality – and instead harnessing its positive effect – relies on three sources of support that we refer to as opportunity scaffolding: self-reflective learning, peer learning and consultative learning. We argue that entrepreneurs with personality profiles high in levels of core self-evaluation (CSE) are more likely to utilize the scaffolding like that available in business incubators effectively. This leads to the development of a more reflective mindset, making capability learning more likely, preventing decisions that lead to overreach and reducing the threat to INV survival. However we also strike a note of caution in that at excessive (hyper) levels of CSE, the internationalizing new venture could become the victim of hubris. Emboldened with unrealistically high self-confidence, hubristic entrepreneurs are more likely to rebuff use of scaffolding, leading to a more reactive mindset, increasing the probability of liminal overreach and threatening INV survival.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-527
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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  • FT
  • ABDC-A*
  • Scopus
  • SSCI


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