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A study into the international competitiveness of low and high intensity Tanzanian exporting SMEs

David Crick (Faculty of Commerce and Administration, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)
Godwin E. Kaganda (Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK)
Harry Matlay (Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 9 August 2011




The purpose of this study is to examine whether differences exist between low and high export intensity Tanzanian internationalising small to medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) in respect of their perceived competitiveness in overseas markets. In this study, export intensity, i.e. the percentage exports make towards total turnover, is viewed as a representation of firms' commitment to serving overseas markets.


The methodology employed a quantitative phase involving a questionnaire completed by 205 Tanzanian SMEs; 112 low intensity (exporting less than 50 per cent of their sales) in comparison with 93 high intensity exporting firms (exporting 50 per cent or more of their sales); also a qualitative phase of interviews with international entrepreneurs in 23 firms.


The findings provide an initial understanding of the two types of firms' patterns of internationalisation and, more specifically, statistically significant issues are identified in respect of items perceived as affecting their competitiveness in overseas markets, including the extent to which they concentrated on serving key markets rather than diversifying risk over a number of markets.

Practical implications

The results offer insights into the practices of Tanzanian exporting firms and recommendations for policy makers as well as an indication for further research.


This research study explores managerial practices of particular types of firms in Tanzania, which have been largely viewed from a developed as opposed to a developing African country perspective.



Crick, D., Kaganda, G.E. and Matlay, H. (2011), "A study into the international competitiveness of low and high intensity Tanzanian exporting SMEs", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 594-607.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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