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This chapter examines the central role played by SMEs in national economies around the world, creating employment and value added. More specifically, the chapter provides a synthesis of the current situation of SMEs in Europe, with particular reference to Italy, and their contributions to economic and social well-being. It also introduces the specific characteristics of SMEs and the opportunities and challenges they face in a globalized and digital world. In looking at the main aspects of the internationalization processes of SMEs, the chapter considers the barriers that small companies face when dealing with the Chinese market. While most part of the literature has focused its attention on examining MNCs, the challenges faced by SMEs have been neglected. The Chinese market is huge, complicated, opaque, and hyper-competitive. Over the past forty years, China’s economic reforms have been successful, making it become a major economic power. However, in the last few years, China’s economic growth has fallen from the double-digit rate and China has entered a ‘new normal’ phase, which highlights key transitions and shifts in policies to rebalance its economy to achieve a slower, but more sustainable, economic development.
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- Chapter 1
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