Academic journal article Management International Review

Comparative Marketing Behaviour of Canadian and Austrian High-Tech Exporters

Academic journal article Management International Review

Comparative Marketing Behaviour of Canadian and Austrian High-Tech Exporters

Article excerpt


The challenge of competing in international markets for high technology products is enormous: the high technology goods trade is dominated by a select few industrial countries. The U.S. is the largest supplier of high tech goods, among OECD Countries followed by Japan, Germany, the U.K., and France. However, Japanese companies are increasingly becoming an aggressive and innovating force. Rapid inroads are also made by other industrial nations.

The technological climate has changed to the extent that superior technological edge alone does not guarantee success. What matters is how a company takes advantage of it (Reid 1986, Clark 1989). Companies can no longer afford to concentrate on developing the domestic market first and then seek out foreign markets. The rapid technological diffusion now makes it unlikely that a company can rely on a technological competitive advantages for long. As global competition intensifies, the strategic implications of the market environment suggest that high-tech companies cannot rest on their laurels, competitors with close substitutes can steal market share from the original product, and high cost of R&D are forcing companies to market their products globally in order to recover the heavy front-end investment (Ohmae 1985).

In smaller countries, such as Canada and Austria, whose R&D spending as a percentage of GDP is substantially lower than other industrialized countries, only a small share of their export trade is derived from high-tech products (1.3% of GDP) and companies essentially operate with a niche orientation when it comes to high-tech products.

This article examines how exporters of high-tech products (hereafter referred to as high-tech exporters) of Canada and Austria perceive their competitive situation, determines what similarities exist, and attempts to explain the differences in their export marketing behaviour. It is clear that the context of the two countries, that is their cultural and geographic settings, influences both enterprise and management. It is of interest that Austrian managers (exporters and non-exporters) show greater openness towards change as reported in Holzmuller's and Kasper's (1990) five-country comparative study. This article also seeks to provide a comparative perspective of the challenges and opportunities as well as the competencies and practices of high-tech exporters in a global and rapidly changing environment. Canada and Austria were chosen for this study because both are relatively small economies, have similar foreign trade dependence (33.3% and 44.2% of GDP respectively), each have one dominant culturally similar (in terms of language, business and consumer behaviour) neighbour, are dependent on a single foreign trade partner for a large share of their exports (U.S.A. takes 73.9% and Germany 35.0% of respective exports). Both are highly industrialized which is reflected in their exports, viz. 81.1% of Canada's exports are manufactured goods, 98.4% of Austria's are in this category (Economist 1990). High-tech products account for only 4.31% of Canadian and 4.89% of Austrian exports (UNIDO 1986).

First, a discussion of marketing high-tech products is given followed by the development of the working model used and the formulation of research propositions that will be tested. Second, the research methodology and sample characteristics are presented. Third, influences of the competitive climate on export management behaviour are discussed. Finally conclusions and implications of the findings for high-tech exporters are offered.

Export Marketing of High-Tech Products

There appears to be no universally accepted definition of high-tech. Certain industries, companies, products are often singled out as high-tech, for example, the electronics industry, computer manufacturers, electronic processing or sensing products. Rabino (1989) proposes a definition that encompasses (a) above-average utilization of scientific and technical workers, (b) above-average expenditures for R&D, and (c) technically advanced nature of the product. …

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