Professor Sylvie Chetty, a marketing researcher from Massey University, and Professor Colin Campbell Hunt of Otago University, have won a prestigious award for a 2004 article that challenged existing theories and showed companies export in their own “Kiwi way”.
The work is helping New Zealand companies break into international markets and the paper revealed that New Zealand firms do not follow textbook approaches of selling through agents and licensing a partner before setting up manufacturing plants overseas.
Instead, they adopt either what she calls a regional model of launching into Australia, a "born global" strategy of going international within two years of starting up, or a global model of developing a strong domestic market and launching out slowly.
She and Professor Hunt won the American Marketing Association’s prestigious Hans B. Thorelli Award for their article 'A Strategic Approach to Internationalization: A Traditional Versus a ‘Born-Global’ Approach'.
The award is given annually to the article published in the Journal of International Marketing that has made the most significant and long-term contribution to international marketing theory or practice.
Dr Chetty says New Zealand firms have to be strategic due to the small size of the country and its remoteness.
“We are export-focussed and there is not a large domestic market. This means we have a contribution to make in developing theories that can be used worldwide, in particular in other small, open economies” she says. “Firms in countries such as Finland, Denmark and Sweden, with similar small domestic markets, are learning from New Zealand."
One of the firms to benefit from her research is Auckland-based Senztek, which wanted to export its hot water control devices. Senztek chief executive Brian Knolles sought help from Dr Chetty and adopted the regional strategy, growing into the Australian market.
“By being able to grow this Australian market, Senztek can now continue to fund its growth strategy into a European market,” he says.
The Ministry of Economic Development-Small Business Unit and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise are also now using the work.
Professor Chetty will be presented with her award at the association conference in New Orleans on February 20.