Overcoming obstacles to success

Advancements in technology mean physical borders no longer confine business practices, giving rise to the importance of international business research. Wellspring Associate Professor of International Business Mike Troilo’s primary research efforts center on this very topic, and more specifically, small to medium-sized enterprises.

“These businesses are an engine of economic growth, which is important for job creation, innovation, productivity and wages,” said Troilo. He notes there is a significant body of research focused on discovering efficiencies in larger, multinational companies. “While it’s helpful to examine larger firms as conduits of growth and incremental innovation, I look at how smaller firms are able to undertake radical innovations to stimulate economic growth.”

Last fall, Troilo and Mark Collins, the Edward E. and Helen T. Bartlett Foundation Professor of Business, presented a paper at the Academy for International Business Central and Eastern European Chapter conference in Poland. The study, which received two awards at the conference, examines the effect of court proceedings on businesses in terms of efficiency, strength and impartiality. “Legal hurdles are a huge obstacle in most parts of the world, especially for small firms,” says Troilo. “Yet, policy makers recognize the importance of these businesses. Research like this helps to answer the question of how we can remove these obstacles.”

Data derived from international business research can translate to practical initiatives such as the policy guidebook for developing small and medium enterprises in the Asia Pacific region that Troilo coauthored with the United Nations. The guidebook compiles information outlining steps that enterprises in this area can use to prosper and grow.

“Aspiring business owners could get the job done if they just knew how to access certain information, such as export regulations,” said Troilo. “Government can be useful as a conduit of information, making it simple for entrepreneurs to start businesses.”

Troilo will have the opportunity to further expand his research during a Fulbright study in Portugal this summer. He chose Portugal because of its size. He will explore ways the country can expand to join the global economy.

“How can Portugal enjoy the prosperity that globalization can bring? What industries should they target? How can the country connect into larger global value chains? These are all questions I hope to begin answering.”