An internationalisation strategy for medium-sized textile manufacturers in a small island developing state
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Globalisation offers openings to both large and small businesses in terms of new market opportunities, the possibility of diversifying risks, reduced dependency on local markets and economies of scale. As small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly playing a significant role in many countries‟ socioeconomic development, governments are promoting their initiation and growth at both the national and international levels. For many years, the textile industry has been an engine of growth for the Mauritian economy by attracting foreign direct investment, subsequently creating jobs and strengthening the manufacturing base of the economy. In this regard, the contribution of the textile industry in transforming the Mauritian economy from a middle-income economy to a high-income economy is widely acknowledged. However, most of the small- and medium-sized Mauritian textile manufacturing businesses are currently not internationalised and face several domestic survival and sustainability challenges resulting from the liberalised trading system adopted by the Mauritian government in 2005. Therefore, in order to effectively facilitate these businesses‟ growth and entrance into international markets, it has become essential that policy makers (Mauritian government) and SME managers realise the need for market growth across borders. Especially the SMEs not yet internationalised need to empower themselves with knowledge and skills about the development of an internationalisation strategy for their businesses, which could lead to growth and sustainability. In this regard, the primary objective of this study was to develop an internationalisation strategy for medium-sized textile manufacturers in Mauritius as a small island developing state (SIDS). To achieve this objective, several theories and models which have been developed to explain the different aspects underpinning businesses' approaches to why, when and how they internationalised as well as the internal and external factors that affected their internationalisation were reviewed from the literature to conceptualise internationalisation of SMEs in the Mauritian context. In developing the internationalisation strategy for the medium-sized textile manufacturers in Mauritius, primary data was collected from business owners/managers by means of an exploratory sequential, mixed-method approach (QUAL/quan). In the qualitative study, 10 business owners/managers were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. The data was then analysed with the aid of ATLAS.ti qualitative data analysis software. To ensure validity and reliability of the qualitative research, the credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability were continuously focused on throughout the research process. Findings from the qualitative study were subsequently further explored by means of a quantitative approach, which included all the internationalised medium-sized textile manufacturers in Mauritius (census sampling). The data gathered by means of the self-administered questionnaire was analysed by the Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) software version 25, and revealed several further insights pertaining to the phenomenon being studied. Since all the participants (qualitative approach) and respondents (quantitative approach) in this study had started their operations as small-sized textile manufacturers, which gradually expanded and grew into internationalised medium-sized textile manufacturers in Mauritius, they consider internationalisation as a continuous part of their growth and sustainability strategy. From the findings in this study it was further possible for the researcher to synthesise all the applicable data into a coherent whole, constituting the proposed internationalisation strategy for medium-sized textile manufacturing businesses in Mauritius, thereby contributing to the achievement of the primary objective set for this study. This study, therefore, contributes theoretically to current knowledge on internationalisation, in particular SME internationalisation in a SIDS and practically to the growth and sustainability of textile manufacturers in Mauritius. Although this study was executed within the context of Mauritius, similar types of businesses in other countries with similar characteristics to that of Mauritius can also benefit from the findings of this study, especially in understanding the pertinent issues surrounding the internationalisation of SMEs.