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Internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises in Vietnam : A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Lincoln University

Nguyen, Hong Diem
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ANZSRC::15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services , ANZSRC::1502 Banking, Finance and Investment , ANZSRC::150201 Finance
The improvement and development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital in driving the global economy and enhancing employment, economic and social development. Internationalisation of SMEs has globally attracted attention from researchers as well as policymakers. Although numerous studies explore the relationship between international activities and the internationalisation performance of SMEs, not many studies investigate, in detail, the factors that impact on internationalisation of SMEs such as export drivers, export barriers, network and government support programmes, especially for transition economies such as Vietnam’s where SMEs play an important role in the economy’s development. This study investigates the relationships between export drivers, export barriers, networks, and government export assistance and small and medium-sized enterprises’ internationalisation in Vietnam, focussing on SMEs’ export activities. The study examines the characteristics of export SMEs and non-export SMEs (non-intending export and pre-export SMEs) with regard to export drivers, export barriers, network relationships and government export assistance. The study also investigates the impact of those factors on SMEs’ export engagement decisions. Implications are suggested to foster SMEs’ export activities based on the study’s findings. Primary data were collected from interviewing SMEs in the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam from July to October, 2018, using a structured survey questionnaire. The survey yielded a response rate of 88.80%; 408 completed responses (91.89% usable rate) that consisted of 201 and 207 responses of export and non-export SMEs, respectively. This study uses descriptive statistics to identify and distinguish the characteristics of export and non-export SMEs. Principal component analysis was used to reduce the dimensions of the export drivers and export barriers and binary logistic regression models are used to estimate SMEs’ probability of exporting. The descriptive statistics show that the awareness of owners/managers about export opportunities and the international experience of managers/owners is important for Vietnam SMEs when they start to export. The two most difficult export barriers faced by SMEs are the difficulty in meeting foreign product quality/standards/specifications and a shortage of funds to finance the investment needed for internationalisation. This study found that SMEs’ in different export stages encounter various export barriers. The logistic regression results show that SMEs’ probability to export is affected by SMEs managers/owners international exposure (such as study abroad, short-course training and work experience in MNC/export company), SMEs’ characteristics (such as firm age, firm size, age of manager/owner, and education of manager/owner), and SME managers/owners’ perceptions of export barriers.
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