Competitiveness research deals mainly with large firms, while there has been limited research on SMEs competitiveness, particularly in the context of globalization. This research gap has been exacerbated because economic globalization created new challenges, whereby there was a substantial increase in the importance of some SME competitiveness factors. In short, globalization has challenged traditional models of firms’ competitiveness and caused a need for new approaches. Strategies to enhance SMEs development in a globalizing economy have to take greater account of the new roles of ICT, quality standards, networking and clustering, innovations, intellectual property management, and internationalisation. All these factors have become critical for SMEs competitiveness in the global environment, but there is limited knowledge about their interaction and combined effects under different economic situations and in countries at different stage of development. Advancing the understanding of these factors for SMEs competitiveness will help entrepreneurs and policy makers to take context specific measures to improve SME performance. This is particularly important for the competitiveness of European SMEs, which account for 98.8% of all enterprises, two-thirds of employment, and 58.4% of GVA in the private sector. The modest recovery in 2010 showed that the export performance and the innovative capacity of an economy are intrinsically linked to the EU SME sector performance.
The project Key factors for the SMEs competitiveness in the context of globalization (“SMEs Competitiveness”) has been awarded by the European Research Agency under the framework of Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships (IEF) (FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IEF), PIEF-GA-2012-327405. The project allowed for the individual mobility of Dr Zhelyu Vladimirov to the Faculty of Economics, Business, and Law at the Surrey University, where he is conducting the work on project topics with the principal project co-ordinator Prof Allan Williams. The stimulating environment in the Surrey University helped the fellow to benefit amply of its scientific resources.