The role of government in small-firm internationalisation : a comparative study of export promotion in Finland, Ireland and Norway, with specific reference to the computer software industry
This thesis involves a comparative study of export promotion systems in Finland, Ireland and Norway. Empirical research was conducted among small firms in the computer software sector. The export behaviour and internationalisation process of these firms are explored. Thereafter, the focus of enquiry is on firms' export problems and on awareness and usage of - and satisfaction with - services provided by the national export promotion organisations (EPO's). The main findings are that: - Firms' size and age are not impediments to export initiation. - Decision-makers' characteristics and attitudes are critical to firms' export development. However - apart from greater prior overseas experience - these are essentially entrepreneurial. - Domestic market environment and industry/sector factors influence export initiation, as do commercial opportunities at home and abroad. However, EPO stimulation measures do not appear to play a significant part in encouraging firms to start exporting . - Most problems facing small software exporters are finance-related, they also perceive their market intelligence activities to be weak. - Awareness of EPO services are high. Usage and satisfaction levels are also high for programmes which provide financial support for export development activities, but are only moderate for services which provide information. The latter are considered to be too general to be useful. - Export development and training programmes are not utilised as widely as they could be. The inherent human resource limitations of small firms are a major contributory factor. Based on these results, the main recommendations are that EPO's should: - Focus on pre-export development which will internationalise firms before they begin exporting. - Offer training which specifically addresses finance-related and market intelligence gathering limitations. - Prioritise support programmes, if necessary, at the expense of information services. - Link export development/training programmes with the opportunity to acquire additional human resources.