Despite little exposure to the global market, small U.S. companies suffer more than big ones during international financial crises, new research finds.

A study of the reaction by the United States stock markets to emerging market crises shows that investors flee to the perceived safety of big companies and shed stocks of smaller ones.

David Berger, an assistant professor of finance at Oregon State University who was the study's author, said the results were unexpected and show that just because someone invests locally doesn’t mean he or she will be protected from the dangers of the global market.

Investors see these big blue chip stocks as the safer ones and small, R&D-intensive stocks, for example, as riskier. So the stock of a smaller domestic company could take a hit because of an international shock,” Berger said in a prepared statement.

Berger said the study's findings have important implications for investors, even those who tend to invest predominantly in the domestic market.

“Because investors started dumping smaller stocks in favor of safer, larger ones, the irony is that larger multinational corporations potentially see positive benefits during international crises," Berger said.

The study looked at almost 20 years of data covering eight large, emerging market crashes. The results appear in the current issue of the Global Finance Journal.