From hand craft to global trade
: the internationalization of Portuguese utilitarian and decorative ceramics

  • António Leitão Mateus (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This dissertation explores the internationalization process of Vasicol, a family company that has been in existence for over a century and successfully transitioned from a domestic-only presence to an international player, exporting 99% of its production to more than 35 countries. The case study examines the firm's entry strategies, the rationale behind its decision to expand abroad, and how it has managed to compete with other players in the market that employ unmatchable low pricing strategies. Through a comprehensive analysis of its strategy, this study identifies Vasicol's unique capability in working with terracotta and stoneware materials, portfolio adaptation to align with local preferences, establishment of an international network, and investment in innovation and design as key drivers of its international success.The case study also highlights some notable changes in the company's international strategy over time, with Vasicol exploring new ways of sustaining growth and identifying new emerging markets of strategic importance. Lastly, this case study offers insightful information on how Portugal, the leading European exporter of ceramic tableware, can preserve its competitiveness in the global market for utilitarian and decorative ceramics. It offers ideas of strategies for effectively compete against countries such as China and India, which employ low pricing strategies.
Date of Award5 Jul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorRicardo Reis (Supervisor)


  • Utilitarian and decorative ceramics
  • Entry modes
  • Internationalization strategies
  • Antecedents of internationalization
  • Adaptation
  • Market selection


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

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