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New technologies and exports

To clarify certain points, we have probed deeper into the relation between the export experience of the enterprises in the sample and their level of technology. It appears that the firms generally use modern technology and invest in new and more efficient equipment in order to increase production capacity, improve product quality and cut costs. At the oil refinery, recent purchases of equipment comprise a continuous refining plant (1988) and bottle blowing and filling equipment (1992). The firm now has on order a bleaching and filtration plant. The fertilizer firm has installed a modern nitric acid plant and an NPK plant. Its latest piece of equipment is a high-efficiency nitric acid absorption column acquired from Rhone Poulenc under a licence agreement. The knitwear firm has this year installed new equipment for knitting and dyeing. Its aim is to keep in step with technological improvements elsewhere in order to introduce more advanced production methods to fulfil export orders and cut costs. The firm endeavours to maintain its position on export markets through productivity increases with the use of modern technology. It also achieves cost reductions through better control of raw material, reduction of wastage and just-in-time stock procurement. The paint manufacturer also uses up-to-date technology. The last piece of equipment was acquired in 1992, with the aim of increasing production capacity. The firm uses up-to-date production methods to cut costs and remain competitive. It has secured a foothold in export markets owing to its reputation for quality and competitive prices.

In short, it appears that these enterprises are generally innovative and keep up with technological improvements. Better organization of production and the use of modern equipment for greater efficiency, quality improvement and cost reduction are the main aspects of their competitive strategies. These enterprises purchase their equipment directly from machinery suppliers who generally send their own technicians for the installation of the equipment. Routine servicing and maintenance are performed by the firms' own staff or are contracted out to local workshops.

The next question concerned the extent to which the firms acquired new skills and improved their organization as a result of their export experience. The oil refinery acquired new skills through regular contracts with leaders in the edible oil industry and professional institutions. It claims to have gained considerable experience in achieving customer satisfaction since it introduced a market-oriented strategy two years ago' after a 23-year monopoly of the local market and a production-oriented strategy. The fertilizer firm states that its export experience has been very beneficial in improving its marketing skills. It now has considerable experience and plans to start a free port trading company. The paint manufacturer has introduced new types of products to suit the requirements of export markets. For the knitwear firm, production is directly related to international market requirements and this has necessitated continuous improvements in skills, standards and organization.

How far have the firm's past industrialization histories helped in building skills for subsequent exporting? This question concerned only those ISE firms that have recently begun to export. According to the fertilizer firm, past industrialization experience helped a good deal but 'export is a game which [the firm] had to learn the hard way through extensive marketing missions'. The oil firm for its part attributes its recent performance on export markets to its new market-oriented strategy and its emphasis on consumer satisfaction. In the case of the paint manufacturer, local production enabled the firm to set up a research and development laboratory staffed with good technicians. As a result the firm can now supply 'tailor-made' products for the export market.

Generally it appears that the recent entry of ISE enterprises to export markets builds on experience gained over the years in producing for the local market. To that extent the export market may be seen as an outgrowth of the domestic market. Exporting forms part of a rational strategy for those firms' future expansion and development.


1 The final draft for this contribution was submitted in March 1993. There may well have been changes with respect to this and other companies in this rapidly evolving sector.


Meade, J.E., Report to the Government of Mauritius: The Economic and Social Structure of Mauritius, Port Louis, Government of Mauritius, 1961.

Appendix: Survey questions

This questionnaire is prepared to guide the thinking, coverage and assessment/evaluation by the researcher. It should provide a guide of what to identify, assess and make judgement about.

A. Firm history

A1. Basic information

A1.1 Name of firm

A1.2 Year of establishment

A1.3 How and why it was established; conditions under which it was established

A2. Ownership structure

A2.1 Ownership structure and how it has been changing over time

A2.2 Role of various partners and how it has been changing over time

A3. Size of establishment over time (1970, 1980, 1985, 1990)

A3.1 Size of the firm in terms of employment

A3.2 Sales

A3.3 Total assets

A4. Production

A4. 1 Main products and activities and major changes over time

A4.2 Main inputs and changes over time

A5. Strategies followed in terms of

A5.1 Intentions

A5.2 Means of implementation

A5.3 How the relative strengths of various departments have been changing to reflect these strategies

A6. History of exporting and changes over time (1970, 1980, 1985, 1990)

A6.1 Items exported

A6.2 Market channels and destination

A6.3 Type of target markets

A6.4 Marketing strategies followed

A7. Technological processes (Identify and describe the process and make your assessment)

A7.1 Changes in process technologies introduced and adopted, and adaptations over time

A7.2 Changes in product technology (types and quality of products) introduced and adopted, and improvements made over time

A8. Productivity and quality changes over time (selected years e.g. 1970, 1980 and 1990)

A8.1 Cost per unit of main product

A8.2 Inputs per unit of main product

A8.3 Changes in quality

A8.4 Indicate any other available measures of productivity (e.g. output per unit of labour, domestic resource cost, total factor productivity)

A8.5 How does productivity compare with that of other local firms in the industry? How does it compare with that of firms in other countries?

A9. Human resource development and changes over time (1970, 1980, 1985, 1990) (Describe the status, changes and make own assessment)

A9.1 Types and quality of skills (levels of education, departments and activities in which they are engaged)

A9.2 How various critical skills have been acquired

A9.3 Forms of training employed (e.g. in-house training, training in other local institutions, training in other countries)

A9.4 Recruitment policies followed

A9.5 Assess extent and significance of labour turnover

A10. Identify and assess linkages with other industries and institutions and changes over time

A10.1 Subcontracting

A10.2 Demand conditions

A10.3 Types of markets served

A10.4 Relevant structure of industry and markets in which the firm has been operating

A10.5 Suppliers (inputs of equipment) and any changing relationships

A10.6 Providers of technical services

A10.7 Policies and regulations which have impinged on the firm's activities and decisions

B. Firm strategies (Identify and describe the various strategies followed)

B1. Investment strategies

B2. Production strategies

B3. Marketing strategies

B4. Innovation strategies

B4.1 Imitations

B4.2 Adaptations

B4.3 Technology search (locally and foreign)

B4.4 Product development

B4.5 Internal and external linkages

B4.6 Human resource development

B4.7 Management control processes (setting standards, measurement of performance, how decisions on corrective action and feedback are made)

C. Core capabilities (Identify and assess the status and changing conditions of the core capabilities!

C1. Investment capabilities

C1.1 Project identification

C1.2 Feasibility study (market study, technical study, management study, financial study)

C1.3 Project preparation, design, setting up and commissioning

C1.4 Mobilization and management of resources (short-term and long-term finance, managerial and technical skills, technology, foreign exchange)

C1.5 Human resource development:

1.5.1 Types and levels of skills

1.5.2 Recruitment policies

1.5.3 Approaches to upgrading of skills

1.5.4 Labour relations

1.5.5 Remuneration policies and practice

1.5.6 Quality of working conditions

C2. Production capabilities

C2.1 Production management (planning, scheduling, work procedures and execution of orders)

C2.2 Production engineering (raw material control, material use standards, standard production times, quality control)

C2.3 Repair and maintenance

C2.4 Access to critical resources (finance, skills, technology, foreign exchange)

C3. Organizational capabilities

C3.1 General management capabilities (sharing responsibilities, long-term direction, definition and clarity of policies and procedures, and whether these are adhered to and reviewed for effectiveness, measurement and analysis of performance, information flow and its utilization in decision-making, awareness of external factors, other linkages impinging on the firm)

C3.2 Management of technology

C3.3 Division of labour

C3.4 Mobilization of resources and capabilities to cope with new situations

C4. Marketing capabilities

C4.1 Ability to maintain market shares

C4.2 Collection and analysis of market information

C4.3 Product development policies

C4.4 Pricing

C4.5 Distribution

C4.6 Efficiency of the sales force and incentives

C5. Innovation capabilities

C5.1 Search for new ways and routines in respect of investment, production, marketing and organization

C5.2 Research and development activities

C5.3 Technology sourcing and adaptations

C5.4 Market research (study of market trends, potential markets and possibilities of introducing new products)

C5.5 Introduction of new technologies in production, marketing and administration and other firm activities

C6. Identify and describe factors which have accounted for success/failure in exporting; indicate how these factors have changed over time

C7. How is the firm dealing with deficiencies in capabilities in various areas which deemed important for the success of the firm? In what way can government and other institutions help?

D. Linkages and interactions with the socio-economic environment (Identify and describe the various linkages and make your own assessment of the relationship and changes over time)

D1. Consulting firms

D2. Licensing agreements and management agreements

D3. Joint ventures

D4. Providers of technical services

D5. Factor market conditions

D5.1 Labour market

D5.2 Capital market

D5.3 Land

D6. Product market conditions

D6.1 Aggregate demand trends

D6.2 Export demand conditions

D6.3 Structure of demand

D6.4 Links and relations with customers

D6.5 Interaction with local and foreign competition

D7. Interaction with government policies and regulations
(identify and assess)

D7.1 Macroeconomic policies (e.g. exchange rates, interest rates, import liberalization)

D7.2 Sectoral policies

D7.3 Regulations (supportive or obstructive)

D8. Linkages with various input suppliers

D8.1 Relations with equipment suppliers

D8.2 Relations with input suppliers

D8.3 Relations with service providers

D8.4 Interactions with financial institutions (local and foreign)

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