Exporting is a popular mode of internationalisation for a variety of reasons. For
instance, many enterprises prefer exporting because it permits them to learn from
competition with minimum resources committed by the enterprise. However, it is
noted in literature that enterprises face various constraints when exporting.
Earlier studies, mostly conducted in developed countries, have documented
several exporting constraints. The studies do not agree on the grouping of factors
constraining exporting and elements that form such groupings. Also, it is
acknowledged in literature that generalising findings from developed countries to
developing countries would not necessarily be appropriate, hence studies in
developing countries such as Lesotho are necessary and, to the researcher’s
knowledge, this study is the first to be conducted in Lesotho. This formal study,
therefore, was carried out to test the hypotheses developed from literature
regarding factors that constrain exporting.
Lesotho is land locked, being completely surrounded by the Republic of South
Africa. It is believed that Lesotho’s setting can bring insights into exporting as the
country becomes a popular destination for export-oriented investors. Although
enterprises operating in Lesotho had been exporting prior to 2000, there was a
major boost of exports at the beginning of 2000 when Lesotho became eligible for exports to the United States, Canada and European markets under the
agreement in the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). The AGOA agreement
brought a flow of Asian export-oriented investors into Lesotho. Lesotho’s exports
are concentrated in the apparel and textile industries and are destined to a few
countries, predominantly South Africa and the United States.
The literature review covers the globalisation of the business environment.
Further, the international entry modes are discussed along with the theories that
explain the decision of the enterprises to initiate the internationalisation process.
Finally, the exporting mode of internationalisation is discussed detailing the
constraints that enterprises face when engaging in exporting.
A questionnaire was used to collect data. The instrument first underwent a
rigorous evaluation by experts who are knowledgeable about the subject. The
experts proposed changes that were adopted prior to conducting a pilot study. A
judgemental sampling approach was used where manufacturing enterprises
located in seven of ten industrial areas in Lesotho, who agreed to participate in
the study, were issued one questionnaire each. The questionnaires were
distributed to key informants who were regarded as managers directly
responsible for international operations. Alternatively, chief executive officers
were approached in situations where enterprises did not employ international
operation’s managers. A response rate of 94.7 percent was obtained. The study revealed that exporting constraints are internal to the enterprises and
that three factors, as opposed to the five that were hypothesised, constrain
exporting. The study further revealed that perceived exporting constraints varied
according to the size of the enterprise as well as the ownership structure thereof.
Recommendations were made relating to actions aimed at minimizing exporting
constraints. Lastly, future areas of research were identified.
The study will be beneficial to enterprises as they will be able to adopt suitable
measures to overcome or reduce the impact of exporting constraints. Also, the
study will inform policy makers in Lesotho with regards to areas where appropriate assistance should be provided. In addition, the study would inform
business educators regarding areas of training for exporters, which will address
the training needs of exporters. Lastly, researchers interested in exporting will
find other avenues that can be researched in order to build the field of exporting.