Stimulating Internationalization through digitalization : Digital competence in Swedish manufacturing SMEs
Sammanfattning: Digital competence used to be a confusing concept, until recently when some researchers coined a comprehensive definition of digital competence and formulated a conceptual framework in an SME context. However, the framework was only at a conceptual level and required to be tested with the empirics of a qualitative or quantitative study. By an abductive qualitative approach, this research explored existing theories on digital competence and formulated a new digital competence framework in Swedish manufacturing SME perspective. Moreover, with cross-sectional study design, this research explored the role of digital competence in the internationalization process of six Swedish manufacturing firms, which is unprecedented in academic literature. Our findings indicate that digital competence is an evolving concept which develops gradually with technological advancements and requires a combination of three integral components: i) Digital technologies (basic and advanced level digitalization), ii) Automation of organizational processes, iii) Human resources who have the latest digital skills and are duly motivated to use these skills. This research affirms that after attaining digital competence Swedish manufacturing SMEs can sustain a competitive advantage in their international markets and it successfully facilitates in the firm’s internationalization process.
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