Making use of multiple cases within a theory building approach, we propose new propositions about the process of entry of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in international markets. In particular we used the direct interview as principal investigation instrument. Three new features are worth noting. First, entry success depends on complementary resources, acquired during an intentional process of experimentation and learning. Second, to acquire such resources, firms must sunk a substantial amount of costs in the exploration activity: this makes the effectiveness of exploration depen dent on the availability of free cash flow. Finally, firms have to face the risk of early leaving, due to the difficulty to interpret market signals. This risk is reduced when firms establish relational contracts with managers delegated to international expansion.
Keywords: Export, complementary resources, learning, sunk cost, governance, theory building.