How does a small company institutionalize? Do infrastructure and investment make or break a small business or is leadership the defining element of success? Are the patterns the same in different areas of the world? A comparison of three similar, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), across three continents, illustrates the role environment plays on an organization. The case studies highlight systemic differences between organizations as they adapt to the demands of their local culture. Three shoe companies depict the varied world of SMEs across borders. From a graffiti-art sneaker startup in Chicago to a skate footwear collective in Buenos Aires and a couture family business in Venice, SMEs are shaped by localized beliefs and behaviors.