The pre-foundation evolution of proactiveness in Born Global and Non-Born Global USOs

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This article adds to existing work on the drivers of early internationalization by exploring how Born Globals’ proactiveness evolves during their pre-foundation period and influences their internationalization timing post-foundation. We perform a comparative, qualitative field study of Born Globals and non-Born Globals based on 22 University Spin-Out companies. The findings reveal that proactiveness during pre-foundation, which emerged as an evolutionary non-linear process in both categories of firms, was critical in facilitating or inhibiting early internationalization. It emerged that Born Globals behaved reactively during the earliest phases of pre-foundation, and gradually became more proactive as the firm approached formal foundation. Conversely, non-Born Globals first behaved proactively and, as the firm moved toward formal foundation, became more reactive. The findings bear important theoretical implications for international entrepreneurship, as well as for literature on university spin-outs and new venture behavior, by generating new context-specific, processual evidence on the role of pre-foundation proactiveness as an antecedent of USO early internationalization.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Small Business Management
Publication statusAccepted - 28 Sep 2021


  • Proactiveness
  • Early Internationalization
  • University Spin-Outs


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