30 July 2007

Australian businesses are taking advantage of information technology and freer capital flows to expand globally in much more innovative ways than simply placing goods on a ship for export.

This is according to a new report released by The University of Queensland (UQ) Business School and the Australian Business Foundation.

The Australian Business Foundation’s research analyst, Dr Matthew Steen, said the report was entitled “Born to be Global: A closer look at the international venturing of Australian born global firms”. It found that smart Australian businesses recognised that they were part of global production chains and were identifying and capitalising on niches within those chains.

“Australian businesses are connecting to ‘global webs of enterprise’ by identifying unmet consumer wants or anticipating new market needs. This is how they add value and remain competitive across borders,” Dr Steen said.

“Significantly, this may or may not involve the export of goods and services, which is only part of the story of Australia’s global successes.”

Professor Peter Liesch, leader of the study and Professor of International Business at UQ Business School, said that the report’s findings suggested the so-called "tyranny of distance" brought about by Australia’s geographic position in the world had become an outdated concept to some of the firms studied for this report.

“The report found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Australia’s geographic position can provide a competitive advantage rather than be an impediment to the global expansion of some Australian businesses,” he said.

“There’s also the obvious advantage of Australian businesses operating in a time zone that lies ahead of those of their clients.

“The smaller scale of many Australian industries and small domestic market demand means Australian firms need to perform high-risk and innovative activities more quickly and adeptly than their larger, more hierarchical international competitors. They must be fleet-footed.

“As a result, they take their products and services to world markets more rapidly and are often more accommodating of specific customer needs.”

Professor Liesch said another of the report’s significant findings was that many Australian businesses were succeeding internationally without having first set foot in the Australian market.

“The good news is you don’t necessarily need to succeed in Australia before you can succeed in larger overseas markets,” he said.

“The majority of the businesses we studied had established themselves globally early in their lifecycles, some doing so before taking on the local market.”

In compiling the report, the UQ Business School and Australian Business Foundation interviewed the leaders of 18 “born global” Australian enterprises covering industries as diverse as pharmaceuticals, advanced engineering, agriculture, electronic documentation and entertainment.

Businesses studied included The Wiggles, Rising Sun Pictures, Biota Holdings, Cochlear, CSL, Ellex Medical Lasers, Beeline Technologies, MYOB, Indigo Technologies, Global Trust Centre, Aconex, Infomedia, NOJA Power, Technico, TNA, Agenix and Micronix.

About the Australian Business Foundation

The Australian Business Foundation advocates relevant ideas, based on the findings of its evidence-based research, to help Australian businesses and policy makers adopt more effective responses to the intensive and competitive global knowledge economy. More information at www.abfoundation.com.au

About UQ Business School
UQ Business School is an integrated, comprehensive business school differentiated by its inspired thinking, its boldly pioneering approach, its professional practice, and its distinguished scholarship.

For more information please contact Cathy Stacey on (07) 3365 6179 or 0434 074 372.