The internalisation of small and medium sized firms (SMES) is emerging as an area of research interest as an increasing number of such firms become actively engaged in international activity, often from inception. All available literature reveals that conventional theories were mainly developed to describe the internationalisation of large multinationals companies MNC and not SME(s). This study provides an overview of the macro economics as well as the microeconomic theory that supports the process of internationalisation of firms. Furthermore, each theory was critically analysed in relation to their limitations, as well as their theoretical contribution to the process of the internationalisation of SME. A theoretical model was developed from the literature review. The objective was to investigate which factors (firms' and decision-makers' characteristics), in the Portuguese and UK textile, clothing and knitwear sectors are associated with export performance. Results indicated consistency in the findings relating to firms' size, competitive advantages, ability to speak foreign languages and nationality, for several dimensions of export behaviour. However, the factors: age, international experience, risk perception, cost perception and profitability perception are not supported as being influential to export performance in this study.

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