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Organizational Characteristics and Performance of Export Promotion Agencies: Portugal and Ireland compared


  • Inês Veloso Ferreira

    (Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto)

  • Aurora Teixeira

    (Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto; INESC)


Export Promotion Agencies (EPAs) have been in operation in developed countries since the beginning of the 20th century to improve the competitiveness of firms by increasing knowledge and competences applied to export market development. Several studies have focused on assessing the real effectiveness of the EPAs, mostly from the viewpoint of firms. There are also some quantitative studies on the influence of organizational characteristics on EPAs performance, but, to the best of our knowledge, no case studies have yet been conducted that analyze, detail and explain which of the EPAs organizational characteristics are associated to their differing levels of success. Therefore, our research aims to fill this gap by assessing whether certain internal traits of EPAs are associated to their distinct performance and which ones in particular. To accomplish this task, a case study analysis is performed comparing a laggard (Portuguese) and a highly efficient (Irish) EPA in terms of export promotion. In methodological terms, a detailed survey is applied to the employees of the two EPAs who deal directly with enterprises in terms of exports promotion, encompassing several dimensions of their organizational performance; strategy, innovation strategy, knowledge management, structure, human resources, processes, procedures, and systems. Using the non-parametric test of Kruskal Wallis, it was found that there are clear differences between the agencies for all the dimensions, except for Structure and Procedures. Furthermore, a factor analysis shows that the hidden factors found for each agency are different, revealing that greater importance is given to strategic decisions in the case of Enterprise Ireland (EI), and to internal matters such as communication and knowledge management in Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal (AICEP). Consequently, AICEP emerges as an organization without any clear component of intentionality, being more concerned with internal matters rather than with actions directed at the market. In contrast, EIs philosophy is more market-oriented and taking the clients needs into consideration is a priority.

Suggested Citation

  • Inês Veloso Ferreira & Aurora Teixeira, 2012. "Organizational Characteristics and Performance of Export Promotion Agencies: Portugal and Ireland compared," GEE Papers 0046, Gabinete de Estratégia e Estudos, Ministério da Economia, revised Jan 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:mde:wpaper:0046

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew J. Cassey, 2014. "The Location of US States' Overseas Offices," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(2), pages 310-325, May.
    2. Foss, Nicolai J. (ed.), 1997. "Resources, Firms, and Strategies: A Reader in the Resource-Based Perspective," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198781790.
    3. Volker Nitsch, 2007. "State Visits and International Trade," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(12), pages 1797-1816, December.
    4. Lederman, Daniel & Olarreaga, Marcelo & Payton, Lucy, 2010. "Export promotion agencies: Do they work?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 257-265, March.
    5. Christian Volpe Martincus & Antoni Estevadeordal & Andrés Gallo & Jessica Luna, 2010. "Information Barriers, Export Promotion Institutions, and the Extensive Margin of Trade," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 39358, Inter-American Development Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Johannes Van Biesebroeck & Jozef Konings & Christian Volpe Martincus, 2016. "Did export promotion help firms weather the crisis?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 31(88), pages 653-702.

    More about this item


    Export Promotion Agencies; Organizational Performance; Portugal; Ireland;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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