Industry 4.0 investments and internationalization: does size matter?

Marco Bettiol, Mauro Capestro, Valentina De Marchi, Eleonora Di Maria


Industry 4.0 technologies (4.0) have the ability to transform the competitiveness of manufacturing firms, providing opportunities to redesign their production and market activities at the international level. However, little is known regarding if and how both small and larger firms exploit such opportunities. Drawing on an original database of Italian firms that have adopted 4.0 technology, this paper explores which new technologies firms adopt, their motivation for doing so, and the impact of this investment. To fill a gap in the literature, it distinguishes between small and medium-large firms, and between global and domestic firms. The results suggest that small and medium-large firms differ in terms of number and the type of technology adopted, which is shaped by their reasons for doing so and in turn influences the effectiveness of the technology. Starker differences emerge when comparing small firms engaging with global sourcing and global markets, suggesting that a firm’s strategy might play a greater role than size in explaining 4.0 adoption patterns. 


Industry 4.0, internationalization, small firms


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