Title: Breaking down the export barriers for small and medium-sized enterprises: focus group study across Vietnam

Authors: Ali Salman Saleh; Jerome Donovan; Viet Le; Arsalan Safari

Addresses: Department of Finance & Economics, College of Business & Economics, Qatar University, P.O. Box 2713, Doha, Qatar ORCID: 0000-0003-2869-2232 ' Department of Business Technology and Entrepreneurship, Swinburne Business School, Swinburne University of Technology, John St., Hawthorn, VIC 3122, Australia ORCID: 0000-0002-0535-4102 ' Department of Business Technology and Entrepreneurship, Swinburne Business School, Swinburne University of Technology, John St., Hawthorn, VIC 3122, Australia ORCID: ORCID: 0000-0002-0361-0889 ' Center for Entrepreneurship, College of Business and Economics, Qatar University, P.O. Box, 2713, Doha, Qatar ORCID: 0000-0002-9324-3321

Abstract: This paper attempts to empirically analyse the motivations and barriers among Vietnamese businesses in undertaking export activities. The study applies thematic analysis method and categorisations developed from extant literature to examine six focus groups among SMEs, chosen from the three regions in Vietnam. The findings suggest that Vietnamese SMEs experience significant difficulties in coping with tariff and non-tariff barriers, accessing information about overseas markets and difficulty in recruiting and maintaining skilled workforces necessary for penetrating international markets. The research findings help in understanding some of the key drivers of SME export activities in Vietnam and will assist policymakers to develop the current SME ecosystem. Additionally, the results offer new evidence on firm-level perceptions about export challenges for Vietnamese SMEs. The findings are in line with the recent economic reforms launched in Vietnam, along with the increased FDI inflows into the country in the last 25 years.

Keywords: export barriers; focus group; international business; SMEs; small and medium-sized enterprises; Vietnam; export performance.

DOI: 10.1504/JGBA.2021.115762

Journal for Global Business Advancement, 2021 Vol.14 No.2, pp.142 - 165

Received: 17 Sep 2020
Accepted: 25 Dec 2020

Published online: 20 Jun 2021 *

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