As the current international system is leaning towards multipolarity, small states face the danger of their influence being diminished and their interests being ignored. Small states in Europe and within the European Union might find themselves in such a predicament. In order to overcome it, they are in need of effective strategies. Literature on the international relations of small states suggests that, despite their limitations, small states are able to pursue their goals and succeed in the international system. Small state studies employ the ‘small but smart state’ concept for a small state that can maximize its influence. Despite being widely used, the latter lacks analytical value and remains a cliché. The objective of this article is to pin down the ‘small but smart’ state strategy and based on that to provide a comprehensive framework for the analysis and the design of effective small state strategies. We suggest that the ‘small but smart’ state strategy shares many elements with the entrepreneurial action, as the latter is extended from its business origins to include a specific strategy. We draw on the field of entrepreneurship to explore the ways it can enhance our understanding of the international relations of small states and we introduce a framework for the ‘small and entrepreneurial state’ strategy. The notion of the ‘small and entrepreneurial state’ adds more depth and rigor into our small state analyses as well as reinvigorates a fragmented and repetitive literature. Last but not least, our ‘small and entrepreneurial state’ approach can be of use for both small state scholars and policy makers.
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