This study focused on the question of whether the Finnish SMEs’ use of publicly funded services for internationalization impacts their growth in terms of turnover, value added, employment, exports, and labor productivity. We further assessed whether there exist positive spillovers from Finpro’s customers to firms that did not use Finpro’s services. Given that the available statistical data on the Finnish firms’ performance is limited to the years before the establishment of Business Finland (BF), our empirical assessment concerned the impacts of BF’s predecessors, i.e., Finpro and Tekes, rather than the new joint organization.
The sales of companies that used Finpro’s internationalization services grew more than the sales of their counterparts. Furthermore, Finpro service use decreased a firm’s likelihood of switching to the lowest 10% sales and employment growth quantile. The simultaneous use of Finpro services and R&D subsidies’ reception increased the probability that a firm switch to the highest 10% sales growth quantile. We did not find any clear evidence of the impact of Finpro’s internationalization service usage on the other growth performance indicators or any apparent spillover effects materializing as higher growth of companies that had hired employees from the firms using Finpro’s internationalization services.
A survey and interviews of the BF officers complemented our empirical analysis of BF interventions’ economic impacts. Nordic collaboration has turned out to be a fruitful way to promote Finnish firms’ internationalization activities. The BF officers regarded the Finnish companies’ inadequate know-how and competence as substantial obstacles to Finnish firms’ growth in international markets. Potential Finnish market entrants often lack understanding of the functioning of their new target markets.
Global Growth for Companies – Impact Study, Report 4/2020.