[ISSN 1974-028X]








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N. 88 - Aprile 2015 (CXIX)


The World of SMEs

di Antonio Anelli


In an economic environment where competition has become increasingly large and globalized, the issue of internationalization does not relate exclusively to the most big companies. Currently, the difficulties of the domestic market, undermined by the decline in the purchasing power of households and the consequent reduction in domestic demand and consumption, impose to small and medium enterprises to open up the challenges in the international competition.


It is need to face global competition in a proactive manner, overcoming resistance to change and the development of our SMEs, which give rise to forms of internationalization, also basic, like the simple export can be a critical success factor and the only alternative to surviving and growing. Obviously the costs for the implementation of a strategy of international development (consulting, store openings, sales networks, etc.) are often a strong deterrent for SMEs.


The incentives to support internationalization are not made only by sinking fund, but in many cases take different forms and techniques "innovative", through instruments such as equity participation, venture capital operations, the sale of export credits, and so on. In this context a complementary role and of no less importance is coated by lenders.


Financial institutions play a role of mediation between those who own capital (investors) and those who use them (companies). This process aims to stimulate greater efficiency of markets, which are inherently structurally imperfect because of the variety of tax and asymmetric information reflected on their financial structure.


The financial structure rather than being irrelevant as postulated in the standard economic theory for perfectly competitive markets and in the absence of taxes (Modigliani and Miller 1958; Goldsmith 1969) is an essential variable in the process of business growth.


The financing enterprises becomes an essential factor of support when considering the context and economic factors that have characterized the world stage in recent years and in particular our country where the "engine of growth" for the economy is represented by SMEs. In the past, the vogue of big business was supplanted by the gradual attenuation of Fordist production model and the diffusion of new ICT technologies that generated the processes of decentralization and disintegration in favor of a more flexible production and organization.


The speech of the SME financing wheels, in today's scenario around the relationship banking in the presence of asymmetric information. In other words, the key role of finance and credit in modern capitalist economies is the essential prerequisite to allow companies to acquire the necessary capital in order to invest more. A factor of evidence is the tendency of the larger companies to appeal directly to the financial markets to raise the funds necessary for their growth. When they are not developed specific instruments and financial markets to support SMEs generated a strong dependence on the credit provided by the banking system that assumes a crucial role in determining the development of both individual business initiatives of both the various international contexts.


SMEs are the driving force for the growth of European economies and play a key role in the creation of new jobs. In all countries they are given a great deal of attention to the conditions that may favor the strengthening or creation of these business realities. Among these conditions, a strong capital structure and the easy access to financial resources are essential to support the growth of the company, entering new markets, technological innovation (ICT).


The critical and peculiarities of our economic system are essentially attributable to matters relating to the management of SMEs in the processes of growth and development of the matrix bottom-up. Recently there was some opportunity for SMEs in terms of financial resources for development. The main reference is to the new stock markets, the increasing access to risk capital, to new financial instruments and to changes in tax regulations.


In recent years, significant public intervention in favor of SMEs according to a logic of coaching and encouragement of market forces did not generate excessive problems of access to finance as it emerged in the late nineties, especially among SMEs in the South. Instead, everything relief, appears to be the role of the institutions for which they assume particular importance when examining the factors that explain the competitiveness of companies both nationally and internationally. By contrast there are actions stimulus coming from banking systems towards public sector for greater linkage between Community, national and regional support and development of SMEs.


Flexible forms of production hinged around networks of enterprises and districts are the essential feature of an Italian model of producing and doing business.


The Italian industrial structure has four distinctive elements: a small number of large companies managed in a rational managerial and organizational typical of Anglo-Saxon business models; a myriad of small production units often very compact manner spread throughout the country and in some cases have sought organizational forms of coordination and system integration, typical of the lattice structure (industrial district, network companies); a presence in the growth of medium-sized companies that are fixed at an evolutionary stage intermediate; a competitive weakness in the productive specialization.


In particular, the Italian SMEs have a series of unfavorable connotations for growth and competitiveness. The lower spending on R&D, the reduced ability to penetrate foreign markets because of unwillingness to integrate exports with a presence abroad next to greater dependence on short-term credit penalize the return on investment and not encourage entrepreneurs to growth dimensional.


The limit for SMEs consists of the under-funding: a weakness for strategic growth in size and competitiveness of the production system. SMEs do not take big risks and try to contain the borrowing. A positive answer to this problem is the potential for networks that do guarantee for credit and have greater access to financing, especially if the network is stable and well-planned.


Therefore banks would assess better the relations system by funding favorable terms compared to requests from individual traders. SMEs can also reach other competitive advantages as a result of participation in the networks. In particular benefited from: the greater economies of scale; greater efficiency in terms of specialization of enterprises belonging to the network; a reduction of transaction costs and the development of shared production.


The processes of globalization open markets have disrupted the traditional patterns of economic competition. Globalization, the acceleration of technological innovations and create opportunities for SMEs and to provide better access to information, financial resources and technology and new markets, but also involve transaction costs and new challenges. Economic globalization in a broader become synonymous with de-nationalization of the economy and relocation of production processes. It is a complementary aspect to the concept of internationalization by which to enter foreign markets and becomes crucial and inevitable collaborate with local entrepreneurs.


The EU's role in the process of internationalization of SMEs is twofold and is essentially financial assistance and trade in the foreign countries. An SME that wants to enter international markets must have two fundamental resources:

1. a good knowledge of the markets internationalization (knowledge and the attractiveness of the main competitive factors);

2. excellent familiarity with the ability to activate the funding / public facilities and private, with the organization of resources on site production and logistics, with the ability to acquire the materials, raw materials, the training of human resources, in terms of skills, capacity building, for the effective and efficient organization of strategic business for export and for the relocation of the company.


This know-how, along with an integrated package of skills, it is necessary to identify the rate of development of the various sectors, the segmentation of demand and understand the consistency of supply to identify the critical success factors in identifying what are the competitive factors that you have to acquire to operate in that market. The operational process of internationalization is substantiated in the study, definition, realization of agreements, alliances with stakeholders and with institutional representatives. In this aspect is due to networking activities with associations, chambers of commerce, ministries and various associations abroad.


The problem is that, in selecting worthy companies of the subsidy, the government does not have the tools to evaluate those that actually are subject to financial constraints and therefore the risk of supporting companies that would be able to autonomously avail external financial resources becomes high. The latter, of course, much prefer to use the public contribution (which costs nothing) in place of bank loans or venture capital.


There are many measures by which the EU and individual Member States undertake to encourage the creation of innovative new businesses, reduce barriers and bureaucratic tax, provide the skills and resources needed to develop R&D. It is a set of financial instruments and not, that have as main theme the aim of increasing the competitiveness of those who are considered agents promoters of innovation.



Riferimenti bibliografici


Alessandrini P., (a cura di), Il sistema finanziario italiano tra globalizzazione e localismo, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2001.

Bagnasco A. Tre Italie. La problematica territoriale dello sviluppo italiano Bologna, Il Mulino, 1977.

Becattini G. Mercato e forze locali. Il distretto industriale Bologna, Il Mulino, 1987.

ISTAT, Struttura e dimensione delle imprese. Anni vari.

Beck, T., Demirguc-Kunt, A., Maksimovic, V., Financing patterns around the world: Are small firms different? Journal of Financial Economics 89 (3), pp. 467-487, 2008.

Berger, A.N., Udell, F.G., The economics of small business finance: The roles of private equity and debt markets in the financial growth cycle, Journal of Banking and Finance 22 (6-8), pp. 613-673, 1998.

De Cecco, M.,. Il declino della grande impresa in AA.VV. Il declino economico dell’Italia. Cause e rimedi, B. Mondadori, Milano, 2004.

Garioni G., PMI e Finanziamenti per l'internazionalizzazione, Strumenti di sostegno pubblico, risk management, rapporti con le banche in vista di BASILEA 2, IPSOA, 2007.




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