O Banco Nacional da Bélgica acaba de lançar um estudo da autoria de Emmanuel Dhyne, Philipp Ludwig and Hylke Vandenbussche, designado "Export entry and network interactions: Evidence from the Belgian production network", que destaca a importância das redes ("networks) na atividade das empresas exportadoras, sobretudo ao nível das pequenas e médias empresas, e na seleção nos modos de entrada em mercados internacionais:
"Despite continued trade liberalization only 4-5% of firms export products to foreign markets. This low rate of export participation reflects the immense challenges exporters face when trying to access foreign markets. Complying with customs procedures and tailoring products to local demand creates large up-front costs which act as an entry barrier and prevent most firms from becoming exporters. A vast literature in international trade has therefore singled out firm productivity as the key determinant to understand low export participation, since only the most efficient firms are able to take on high entry costs while remaining profitable in foreign markets.
This perspective, however, ignores that firms do not operate in isolation but are constantly interacting through their domestic production network. These network interactions provide a potentially powerful source of information about foreign markets as they connect domestic firms to experienced exporters which are already present in foreign markets. Signals travelling along these linkages could therefore inform firms about foreign market conditions, lower the cost burden typically associated with market access and turn the network itself into a key determinant of export participation. Becoming an exporter might therefore not only be the result of highly efficient production capabilities, but also the result of suitable network linkages.(...)
Our results indicate that firm networks are an important determinant of export participation. (...)
These findings have several implications for researchers and policy makers alike. First, they emphasize that determinants of export participation are both generated within and outside of the firm. Foreign market entry evidently both depends on firms’ efficiency as well as the value of their connections. (...) Second, our results suggest that leveraging existing network linkages presents a potentially powerful tool for policy makers to promote export participation. This is especially true for SMEs which stand to gain most from a network-centered approach."