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BUSINESS CHARACTERISTICS OF SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED AUSTRALIAN EXPORTERS
Comparing Exporters with Non-Exporters
For all businesses in the sample an average, or mean, was taken for sales, sales per employee, average wage, value-added, assets, age or length of current ownership and number of employees. Table 2 shows the statistics for all industries, and separately for Manufacturing businesses.
These statistics show that exporters have higher total sales, sales per employee, and value-added; pay higher average wages; and, possess more assets than non-exporters. They have also been in operation under current ownership longer and employ more staff than non-exporters.
Businesses were also classified according to whether they had any degree of foreign ownership, a web presence, increased targeting of export markets and whether they were involved in innovation activity such as goods and services innovation, operational process innovation or organisational/management innovation. Table 3 shows the results.
In both samples it is clear that exporters have a higher propensity to have some degree of foreign ownership, a web presence, target export markets and engage in innovative activity.
Exporters and Non-Exporters Across All Industries
A statistical analysis of the total BLD sample shows that sales per employee (which is a labour productivity proxy), business age, foreign ownership, web presence (which is a proxy for ICT use) and increased targeting of export markets (which is a proxy for management commitment to export) are all positively and significantly associated with exporting.
When businesses were looked at according to size (1-4, 5-19, 20-99 and 100-200 employees) it was found that businesses with 1-4 employees were less likely to export than larger businesses, but as business size increased there was not a proportional increase in the probability of exporting.
Exporters and Non-Exporters for the Manufacturing Division
When the sample size is reduced from 5,747 businesses across 14 industry divisions to 872 businesses in the Manufacturing Division, the results are very similar. The labour productivity proxy, foreign ownership, and the use of ICT and management commitment to export proxies are all positively and significantly associated with exporting. However, the use of different innovations are not significant.
There were some differences when comparing manufacturing businesses to all industries, especially when looking at business age and business size. Among manufacturing businesses, longevity or age is neutral in its effect on exporting, while the data suggests the effect of size on export status diminishes once a manufacturing business employs more than 100 staff.
Australian small and medium-sized businesses in the BLD that were exporters in 2006-07 have higher total sales and sales per employee; generate more value-added; pay higher average wages; and, possess more assets than non-exporters. In addition, they have been in operation under current ownership longer and employ more staff than non-exporters.
The results suggest that productivity, foreign ownership, commitment to export, use of information and communication technology, and business size are positively and significantly associated with export status. However, business size (as measured by number of employees) appears to have a non-linear relationship with export status. In particular amongst manufacturing businesses the marginal effect of size seems to diminish after a business employs more than 100 staff.
This article is based on a paper presented by David Hansell and Tala Talgaswatta at the 2009 Australian Conference of Economists held at Adelaide University. For further information on the analysis in this article and the variables used please contact David Hansell on Canberra (02) 6252 7456 or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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