Fostering Global Entrepreneurship and Business Development in Latin America Using Government, Public Universities and Private SME Partnerships: The Vibrant International Trade Alliance (VITAL) Model

Van R. Wood (PhD), Frank Franzak (PhD), Dennis A. Pitta (PhD)


Economic development requires a complex mix of markets, financial resources, and expertise. Business development in Latin America has followed a tradition of natural resource exploitation, representing a classic example of the “old economy” in today’s global marketplace. However, in order to reap significant economic and social advancements it is imperative that this emerging region embrace a value-added approach requiring increasing knowledge resources. Today, the traditional drives of wealth creation—land, labor and capital—tend to be commodities. Ideas are the now the main currency driving development. One area where ideas flourish is entrepreneurship embedded in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It is here where great promise for introducing innovation and boosting competitiveness lies. This paper, based on these notions, presents a development model that integrate—1) expertise from government agencies charged with enhancing international trade and investment (AITIs), 2) public institutions of higher education (PIHEs) charged with educating the next generation of globally competitive business leaders and 3) small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking real growth in the globalized business environment leading to a “win-win” situation for all. More specifically, the authors introduce one such model—VITAL (Vibrant International Trade Alliances), and—1) overview the realities of globalization that have created unprecedented SME opportunities for emerging markets, such as those in Latin America, 2) review the importance of entrepreneurship in moving SMEs to the next level of wealth creation, 3) present an example of the model currently utilized in a globally engaged U.S state (Virginia) that has fostered SME and entrepreneurial enterprises in global markets, 4) explains how the model can apply to Latin American nations and also to partnerships between Latin American nations and their U.S. counterparts, and 5) provides managerial, policy and future research implications related to this “boundary spanning” way of thinking.

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