Business networks and internationalisation of contractors from developing countries

Abdul‐Rashid Abdul‐Aziz (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia)
Sing‐Sing Wong (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Publication date: 3 May 2011



Increasingly, construction companies from developing countries are succeeding in finding a space in the international market. Their progression deserves academic attention. Using Network Theory, this paper seeks to examine the role and extent of business networks in aiding contractors from Malaysia, as one such developing country, to penetrate foreign markets.


The research adopted the mixed method approach. A postal questionnaire survey, complemented with desk research and interviews, was used to collect data.


The findings show that in fact business networks can account for much of the surveyed contractors' overseas achievements, in terms of markets they entered, overseas projects they secured and market presence mode they adopted, although, without their competitive assets, the networks would have been meaningless.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation was the small sample population, which is compensated by interviews to validate the inferences.

Practical implications

Contractors from developing countries should fully cultivate, nurture, exploit and reconfigure their business networks in order to make their impact internationally.


The paper has provided insight into the power of business networks in configuring competitiveness of contractors from a developing country in the international arena. The paper also draws attention to the limitations of the Network Perspective by highlighting the inseparability of the firms' own competitive strengths and business networks in explaining overseas success, and the dynamics of business networks as the contractors continuously reposition their competitive positions.



Abdul‐Aziz, A. and Wong, S. (2011), "Business networks and internationalisation of contractors from developing countries", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 282-296.

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