Original Research

Perceived impediments to export involvement among small and medium sized firms : non-exporters perspective

Mercy Mpinganjira
Acta Commercii | Vol 11, No 2 | a151 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v11i2.151 | © 2011 Mercy Mpinganjira | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 December 2011 | Published: 06 December 2011

About the author(s)

Mercy Mpinganjira, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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Purpose: The main purpose of this paper is to examine perceived impediments to export involvement among non-exporting small and medium sized firms (SME's) in Malawi. The study also examines levels of interest in exporting among the firms.

Problem investigated: Many countries have programs aimed at promoting export involvement among SME's. Despite this, most SME's continue to ignore exporting as a viable business strategy. Information on perceived impediments to export involvement especially from the non-exporters' perspective is often lacking hence the need for this study.

Methodology: Data was collected from 80 owner managers of non-exporting SME's. A structured questionnaire was the main instrument used to collect data. Personal interviews were also held with managers for the purposes of probing their answers to the questions in the questionnaire. Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 18 was used to analyse the quantitative data obtained from use of the structured questionnaire. Qualitative data obtained through personal interviews was analysed used thematic analysis.

Findings: The findings of the study showed significant levels of interest in exporting among the firms. The majority of the owner managers indicated willingness to exploit export opportunities that may be readily available to them. The findings however showed that just over half of the respondents had discussed or investigated the possibility of exporting before. On impediments to exporting, the findings showed that managers perceive many factors as important impediments to their firm's involvement in exporting. The top two most important impediments were internal to the firm and related to human resource issues. They included insufficient knowledge about export opportunities and lack of personnel knowledgeable in exporting.

Originality and value of the research: A review of literature shows that most export promotion studies tend to focus more on issues relating to firms already involved in exporting. Efforts aimed at encouraging more SME's to take up exporting are however likely to fail if they do not address non-exporters' concerns.

Conclusion: There are many non-exporting firms which would consider exporting if only they could receive appropriate help. It is thus important for officials involved in export promotion to understand perceived impediments to export involvement from the non-exporters perspective. Such information can help in designing export promotional programs that will address concerns and help improve uptake of exporting as a business strategy. This study contributes towards this understanding.


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