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Barriers to Internationalisation: Firm-Level Evidence from South Africa


  • Marianne Matthee

    (School of Economics, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa)

  • Waldo Krugell

    (School of Economics, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa)


The internal resource barriers that firms experience influence their capability to export. This in turn influences the export performance of the country and the extent to which exports contribute to economic growth. The aim of this paper is to analyse the impact of resource barriers, more specifically firm size, productivity, firm-specific capital and labour market constraints, on South African firms' decision to internationalise. The literature on South African exporting firms presents some interesting glimpses of the exporting behaviour of firms in South Africa. However, these were cross-sectional studies focusing on earlier NES data and the 2003 ICA data. This paper tries to provide another dimension in terms of data, by taking the 2007 ICA data into account and by constructing a unique panel from the World Bank Enterprise Survey data for 2003 and 2007. Using panel data allows for better understanding of South African firms in that it enables one to consider the dynamic nature of firms over time. Also, the earlier South African contributions examined the export behaviour of South African firms, but did not control for unobserved heterogeneity. This paper takes the analysis a step further by estimating a panel data two-step Heckman selection model of the predictors of firms’ export propensities and intensities. From the overall results of the model, it is clear that the unobserved factors that make export more likely tend to be associated with lower levels of exports. The main findings are that firm size, productivity and finance matter for exports. Also, barriers to doing business, such as electricity, customs delays and transportation and the use of imported inputs influence exporting firms’ supply-side capabilities.

Suggested Citation

  • Marianne Matthee & Waldo Krugell, 2011. "Barriers to Internationalisation: Firm-Level Evidence from South Africa," Working Papers 2011/09, Maastricht School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:msm:wpaper:2011/09

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Morgan, Robert E. & Katsikeas, Constantine S., 1997. "Obstacles to export initiation and expansion," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 677-690, December.
    2. Flora Bellone & Patrick Musso & Lionel Nesta & Stefano Schiavo, 2010. "Financial Constraints and Firm Export Behaviour," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(3), pages 347-373, March.
    3. Edwards, Lawrence & Rankin, Neil A. & Schöer, Volker, 2008. "South African exporting firms: What do we know and what should we know?," MPRA Paper 16906, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Korth, Christopher M., 1991. "Managerial barriers to U.S. exports," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 18-26.
    5. Neil Rankin, 2006. "The Regulatory Environment and SMMEs. Evidence from South African Firm Level Data," Working Papers 06113, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    6. V. Gimede, 2004. "Export Propensities and Intensities of Small and Medium Manufacturing Enterprises in South Africa," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 22(5), pages 379-389, June.
    7. Rankin, Neil A., 2001. "The export behaviour of South African manufacturing firms," MPRA Paper 16904, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marianne Matthee & Neil Rankin & Tasha Naughtin & Carli Bezuidenhout, 2016. "The South African manufacturing exporter story," WIDER Working Paper Series 038, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Marianne Matthee & Neil Rankin & Carli Bezuidenhout, 2017. "Labour demand and the distribution of wages in South African manufacturing exporters," WIDER Working Paper Series 011, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory

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