Analysing the critical influences on export entrepreneurship in a developing country environment : a focus on Nigerian manufacturing firms
This thesis embodies an empirical investigation into the entrepreneurial and contingency (domestic environmental) factors which underlie the initial export venturing of manufacturing firms from Nigeria, a sub-Sahara African country. It situates the overall level of export entrepreneurship in Nigeria within a moderate to low range, but recognises the prevalence of illegal, across-the-border trade, as well as domestic environmental disincentives. Using an empirically validated exportentrepreneurial orientation construct, a high versus low export-entrepreneurial taxonomy was derived. The high export-entrepreneurial firm is profiled as typically innovative in developing exporting, less averse to exporting risks, and has more proactive motivations for exporting. Its decision makers, largely entrepreneurial personality types, are possessed of international orientation, contact networks, and previous business experience. The firm itself is characterised by top management support, plannin g orientation, unique/quality products, ability to develop new markets, access to middlemen network (both local and international), technological capability, and proactive search for export information. It perceives domestic environmental hostilities as much as other firms, but appears better able to adapt, hence enter the export market. This contingent fit between high export-entrepreneurial orientation, environmental disincentives and positive export behaviour has implications for the export development initiatives of the Nigerian Government (including its agencies), organised private sector institutions and international bodies. Focus and emphasis should be placed on equipping firms and business people with those characteristics identified, and outlined above, as correlates of export entrepreneurship. Specific proposals put forward in this thesis include the introduction of training programmes on international entrepreneurship (possibly sponsored by the IMF/UNCTAD), setting up of export trading companies, export mentoring schemes, and localised export clubs. Major improvements are also required in the operating environment, including the implementation of government's export promotion programme. Another key point emerging from this study is that all high export-entrepreneurial firms do not export, while some low export-entrepreneurial firms do. This suggests the need for a new firm taxonomy built around export-entrepreneurial orientation and exporting status, thus: (i) high export-entrepreneurial exporters; (ii) low export-entrepreneurial exporters; (iii) high export-entrepreneurial non-exporters; and (iv) low export-entrepreneurial non-exporters. Specific recommendations are targeted, in this thesis, to each of these four categories of firms based on the appreciation of their areas of greatest need/weakness.