Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Regional Studies Association Annual Conference 2017


Ireland’s economic development is intrinsically linked to its success at attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). For decades, indigenous industry has lagged behind the foreign-owned sector, giving rise to concerns of a dualistic industrial structure. An over-reliance on FDI carries a number of risks associated with its footloose nature and weak linkages in the domestic economy. The development of a strong export-oriented indigenous sector is therefore seen as essential to ensure sustainable economic growth and employment security. Since the 1990s, Irish industrial policy has placed a greater emphasis on indigenous industry. At the same time technological change and the decentralisation of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) have provided opportunities for small innovative firms.

This paper examines the internationalisation of indigenous start-ups that received support from Enterprise Ireland, the government agency tasked with the development and growth of indigenous industry. These firms are traced over time using the FAME database, supplemented by other sources including websites and news reports. Survivors are found to have high levels of internationalisation. Consistent with findings for other small economies, acquisitions are often by foreign-owned MNEs. A blurring of the indigenous/foreign-ownership dichotomy raises a number of questions including the degree of embeddedness of these firms in the domestic economy, their FDI linkages, the ability of policy-makers to ensure local ownership, and the relevance of indigenous ownership for a small peripheral economy in a highly globalised and networked world.