The Role of Spiritual-Based Social Networks in SME Internationalization: The Case of Anatolian Tigers from Turkey

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Yusuf Kurt


This thesis aims to contribute to the international business (IB) literature through focusing on the role of spiritual-based social networks in SME internationalization. More specifically, it seeks to understand how spirituality fosters network commitment which in turn affects network outcomes and internationalization performance of SMEs through focusing the specific network context of the Anatolian Tigers. Network approach has been extensively applied in internationalization research, and the role of networks in internationalization process has been widely acknowledged, especially in the context of SME internationalization. Moreover, network commitment has been accepted as a fundamental determinant of effective network performance outcomes. However, as stated by Clarke (2006, p. 1185) "we still know very little regarding the particular antecedent conditions that give rise to commitment in networks". This study imports spirituality into the IB literature in order to understand how spirituality affects network commitment and in turn network performance outcomes and internationalization performance. Through bridging two main bodies of the literatures, particularly focusing on spirituality, network commitment and internationalization spirituality, a model is developed and empirically tested. A mixed-method approach has been taken through combining semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire to collect data. In the first phase; 22 semi-structured interviews were conducted and it was followed with a questionnaire conducted to 120 participants who are members of the networks. Qualitative data was analysed through employing a thematic analysis. A conceptual framework was then developed in the light of the preliminary qualitative findings and a comprehensive review of the extant literatures. The hypothesized model was tested through employing PLS- SEM analysis with SmartPLS3. The results demonstrate that spirituality is a significant driver of trust and network commitment which also determines characteristics of networks and thus network outcomes. Two key empirical findings of this research provide significant contribution to the IB literature. The first contribution is to demonstrate that spirituality operates as a significant driver of network commitment, whereas prior network-focused internationalization research has been mostly dominated by utilitarian perspectives. The second and related finding confirms that the spiritual-based networks have different characteristics which lead to different network outcomes. Network members do not consider the networks as a source of resources, but benefit from them as a platform through which they can learn and develop capabilities.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Mo Yamin (Supervisor)
  • Rudolf R. Sinkovics (Supervisor)
Award date1 Aug 2016