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Nicole Coviello

Can consumers be international entrepreneurs?

Through technology advances, consumers have become international entrepreneurs in their own right, exploiting opportunities to create and market products across the globe. This article was a first-mover in studying why this occurs and the impact this has on international firms. 

What You Need to Know

As consumers connect within and across the internet, their opportunities to become entrepreneurs themselves rise. Four types of international entrepreneurship are identified as possible for everyday consumers: as traders, financiers, outsourcers and innovators/producers. In each case, individuals no longer require a physical market nor a traditional business entity to their goods/services abroad. 

More Details

What Did the Researchers Do? 

Yanto Chandra and Nicole Coviello ask: Given the emergence of users/consumers who display behaviour that is not only entrepreneurial but international, do existing theories explain the emergence of consumers acting as international entrepreneurs? They integrated and extended past research from international business, international entrepreneurship and marketing to develop their arguments. 

What Did the Researchers Find? 

This is one of the first articles (2010) to recognize that the discovery, evaluation and exploitation of opportunities no longer needs to occur within formal business environments nor within traditional live markets. With the advent of high levels of technology-mediated connectedness between consumers and firms, entrepreneurial activities extend to individuals – like you and me- operating in virtual markets.  

Chandra and Coviello identify four ways that individual consumers become international entrepreneurs:

  1. As international traders (buying and selling goods online);
  2. As international financiers (online lenders);
  3. As international outsourcers (providing specialized skills to others); and, most like traditional entrepreneurs,
  4. As international innovators & producers (designing, producing and selling goods/services to global markets). 

How Can You Use This Research?

Marketers can use this research to recognize the potential of individual users and consumers as entrepreneurs, creating new ways to facilitate business transactions and involve consumers in their international activities. 

Individuals interested in entrepreneurship can use this research to learn about new opportunities to build skills and become international entrepreneurs themselves. 

Scholars can use this early set of arguments as a basis for exploring new opportunities for users and consumers in the digital (and global) environment.   

Want to Know More?

Contact Nicole Coviello 

Article citation: Chandra, Y., Coviello, N. (2010). Broadening the Concept of International Entrepreneurship: ‘Consumers as International Entrepreneurs’. Journal of World Business, 45, pp. 228-236.  

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