Internationalization of South Carolina Enterprises: A Mixed-Methods Study of Barriers and Economic Incentives

Internationalization of South Carolina Enterprises: A Mixed-Methods Study of Barriers and Economic Incentives

Author: 
Andrew Jonathan Beall
Program of study: 
D.B.A.
Abstract: 
The objective of the mixed-methods research project was to expand understanding of economic incentives and barriers to international expansion for small and medium sized enterprises located in the coastal counties of South Carolina. Growing global markets are linked to increased opportunities for smaller enterprises to participate in international commerce. Limited understanding of incentives that enable success and techniques effective for overcoming barriers that restrict South Carolina firms from rewarding participation in international markets was the research problem addressed in the study. The purpose of the study was to explore the international expansion experience of leaders for South Carolina small and medium-sized enterprises and examine differences in leader-perceived levels of success for Lowcountry firms because of international status. The project was a mixed methods study using an exploratory, sequential design with an initial stream employing qualitative techniques followed by a subsequent stream using quantitative tools to analyze survey data. Qualitative interview techniques were used to engage a limited number of firms to acquire data on common internationalization experiences among participants. Three internationalization incentives and three barriers were identified. Hypotheses developed from the initial strand of the project were then answered using analysis of survey data collected via a census of the available population. Triangulation of data from two phases of the mixed-methods study revealed foreign market opportunity and supply chain resources as incentives, and ample domestic-market opportunity as a significant barrier to international commerce. Leaders of internationally active firms reported larger customer bases, larger numbers of employees, higher levels of competition, and higher five-year average rates of revenue growth.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to an exceptional team of executive, global leaders. I dedicate the work of my past four years to Lew Kling, Mark Blinn, Tom Pajonas, Tom Ferguson, Ron Shuff, and Mark Dailey. Working together we advanced one of the world’s leading industrial equipment companies, favorably impacting the lives of many. Prior to beginning my doctoral journey, I learned much from a host of influential mentors; however, working alongside these gentlemen my leadership development accelerated and I learned more than in any period in my career. This dedication reflects my gratefulness for the time we shared and for their help to make a doctoral pursuit possible.
Acknowledgements: 
First, I wish to acknowledge my wonderful wife and soul mate, Laura, who is my inspiration and constant companion. By the grace of God, we were brought together for a long life of adventure. I am always in awe of her enthusiasm and willingness to journey with me through the doors God opens. She is surely an angel God placed in my path. I wish to especially acknowledge and thank my mentor, committee chair, and friend, Dr. Johnny Morris. How fortunate I have been to have a committee chair to provide directional guidance, direct feedback as needed, and encouragement along this journey. The broad personal and professional experience Dr. Morris gained from his years as a United States Naval Aviator, a banking executive, scholar, professor, and mentor at the doctoral level to dozens of successful candidates shaped him as a clear example of the Scholar, Practitioner, and Leader (SPL) model recommended by University of Phoenix. To Dr. Ronald Heuss and Dr. James Cunningham, two exceptional committee members, I wish to express my appreciation also. These gentlemen shared their unique talents and research approaches with me as a novice researcher. The mixed-methods design that I chose to follow exposed me to the benefits and challenges of qualitative and quantitative research and analysis techniques. The insight, guidance, and affirmation Dr. Heuss and Dr. Cunningham shared with me helped make possible the success of my project. Finally, I wish to thank the many wonderful leaders of South Carolina enterprises who shared both their time and experience with me. Research, I learned through the conduct of this project, depends on the kind consideration of many people.