Many SMEs develop quality products that sell competitively in international markets. However, due to their “small” or “medium” size, they cannot achieve the minimum volumes required by the demand to materialize business. In these cases, seeking alliances with other SMEs to increase the export supply represents an interesting option worth analyzing.
Notwithstanding the above, joining forces with other companies is not an easy task for SMEs due to the following reasons, among others:
- SMEs are mostly managed through informal, non-written procedures that change depending on the will of the owner or manager. Consequently, staff is not used to working under certain formal patters of written procedures or having to abide by collegiate decisions regarding the different company activities. This is a relevant obstacle for associating with another company, that is, when it is necessary to act together in a coordinated fashion in all aspects of the production process, both technical and managerial.
- Typically the technologies for producing goods or services offered by SMEs are not sufficiently modern and also differ among companies. This is why to develop a uniform product or service it is necessary to standardize the available technologies and proceed to distribute and specialize in the different functions of the production process, which often means fully transforming the companies’ structure and operations. The need to standardize production processes and/or to specialize on a specific process represents a significant obstacle for companies associating, not only because of the technical and managerial difficulties implied, but also because a significant investment is usually required for adapting the technologies of the participating companies.