Chapter 4: Organizational characteristics and performance of public export promotion agencies: Portugal and Ireland compared
Export Promotion Agencies (EPAs) have been operating in developed countries since the beginning of the twentieth century (Seringhaus and Botschen, 1991). Some literature, however, has questioned their efficiency (e.g. Keesing and Singer, 1991) and, mostly after the 1990s, a number of studies on their performance and impact on exports and trade were made (e.g. Cavusgil and Yeoh, 1994; Wilkinson and Brouthers, 2000; Calderón et al., 2005). Most of the extant studies in the area have focused on the efficiency of EPAs from the viewpoint of firms (e.g. Calderón et al., 2005), although there are also several generic studies on the influence of the organizations’ characteristics on their performance (Lederman et al., 2010). Nevertheless, and according to Lederman et al. (2010), case studies have yet to be conducted that analyse, detail and explain how certain characteristics of EPAs influence or explain their differing levels of success (in terms of export performance). Thus, there seems to be a gap in the literature that needs to be explored. As such, a qualitative study is proposed here comparing two European EPAs, more specifically, in Portugal and Ireland. The first case was selected for two reasons: its relative (low) performance in terms of export efficiency (Lederman et al., 2010) and the fact that internationalization has in recent years become a national imperative, being considered by the current Portuguese government (the 18th) of vital importance as a means to escape the crisis affecting the country (Portugal – Government, 2009).
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