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Sources of information utilized by British Columbia exporters to identify business opportunities in ASEAN : an interview study Carter, Michael T.


This thesis reports on the results of an interview-based survey of 21 British Columbia exporters active in the ASEAN region. The primary focus of the research was on the sources of information utilized by these exporters in uncovering their initial and most recent business opportunities in the ASEAN market. The respondents in the study displayed a clear preference for sources of information which were external to their organizations rather than internal and for personal sources of information rather than non-personal or documentary sources (including electronic databases). The single most important source of information on potential business opportunities in ASEAN was the personal network of contacts developed by the firm's own personnel, particularly the firm's local man in the field (whether he be an agent, distributor, or joint venture partner). Contrary to the U.S., Swedish and European experience described elsewhere in the literature, the respondents in this study rarely entered the ASEAN market on the basis of an "unsolicited export order". Nor did they attach much importance to bankers, consultants, brokers, lawyers, or government officials as sources of potentially useful information on new business opportunities in ASEAN. Also surprising was the fairly common usage of a "piggyback" or "big brother" method of initial market entry into ASEAN. In most of these cases, the respondents acted as subcontractors to larger Canadian and American firms active in the ASEAN marketplace. Equally surprising was the conspicuous lack of success enjoyed by two B.C. export consortiums formed to penetrate the ASEAN market. Finally, there was very little evidence of any major shift in the type of information sources used, over time. The best sources of information remained "personal contacts" and "the local man in the field". There was, however, some movement away from the use of personal contacts established by the firm's senior executives while on a preliminary swing through the region and towards the use of personal contacts established by the firm's local representative. In addition, there was a growing trend towards the use of indigenous or "bumiputra" representatives in ASEAN and away from the use of Chinese or expatriate middlemen.

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