Typology of the Chinese exporter

Xi Chen (China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing, People's Republic of China)
Zuohao Hu (Tsinghua University, Beijing, People's Republic of China)
Xuanzhong Sun (China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing, People's Republic of China)
Ping Zhao (Tsinghua University, Beijing, People's Republic of China)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Publication date: 30 August 2011



The purpose of this paper is to identify the typology of Chinese indigenous exporters by incorporating proactive‐reactive and long‐ and short‐term export motivations as inputs. This study also seeks to find out whether, when driven with a different strength of four export motives, firms differ significantly in terms of commitment, learning, competence and performance.


This paper employs cluster analysis to explore the typology of Chinese exporters and conducts ANOVA to compare subsequent differences in organizational characteristics, competence and performance. Case studies are then used to validate and exemplify the typology.


Findings suggest that Chinese exporters fall into four segments: the prospector, the strategist, the hesitator and the experimentalist. Each shows a unique set of organizational characteristics and different performances. The prospector is most competitive and the best performer, followed by the strategist.

Research limitations/implications

The study uses limited export motives and profiling variables to understand this in a static way. Other motives and profiling variables are welcomed, and future study can address this in a dynamic way.

Practical implications

The findings suggest an evolutionary path for exporters and implies how to strengthen proactive and long‐term motives in order to achieve superior performance.


This paper for the first time looks at firms that are already involved in exporting, how differently they are motivated and how their initial internationalization motivations lead to sharp differences in export performance.



Chen, X., Hu, Z., Sun, X. and Zhao, P. (2011), "Typology of the Chinese exporter", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 235-255. https://doi.org/10.1108/17506141111163345

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