The role of export associations as supporters of SME exporters in Ghana's non-traditional export sector

Martins, Albert (2012) The role of export associations as supporters of SME exporters in Ghana's non-traditional export sector. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Ghana's Non-Traditional Export (NTE) sector is central to her export growth and socio- economic development. Dominated by SME exporters, the sector has historically underperformed, hence Government's establishment of Export Associations (EAs) to boost SME exporters' performance. This research evaluated EAs' support-role by answering the question: To what extent are EAs in Ghana supporting SME exporters' to be competitive on the export market? The NTE sector and the export market provided the internal and external research contexts. Designed cross-sectionally, the research adopted pragmatism and subsequently the mixed- methods approach. This involved the collection of qualitative data from 19 EAs and 4 Export Promotion Agencies via semi-structured and in-depth interview methods respectively, which were analysed thematically using Nvivo 8. Additionally, survey results from 259 SME exporters were statistically analysed employing SPSS. The main findings suggest that EAs are supporting SME exporters only to a little extent, providing more home-country than foreign-country support. Exhibition Support; Production Support; Business Management Training, were high support areas, whilst Legal Assistance Abroad; Solving Problems Abroad; Contract Writing, received low support. Also, Actor Bonds, Activity Links, Resource Ties (AAR); Dynamic Capabilities (DC); Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO); Horizontal Trust; and Vertical Trust (most important) positively influenced SME exporters performance. The research revealed that 'vertical trust' had a stronger influence on export performance than 'horizontal trust.' 'Leadership characteristics' and 'Access to resource-support' emerged as additional EA factors influencing SMEs' export performance. The study's key theoretical contribution is the successful application of the large-firm model (AAR) to small export firms, and the rare synthesis of network-level model (AAR), firm-level models (EO) and (DC), and a multi-dimensional construct (TRUST), for a conceptualization which is empirically tested. Findings from this research offer new insights to research practitioners and policy makers within the NTE sector, and provides a useful mechanism for evaluating EAs and determining SME exporters' performance.

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