Date of Conferral
Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)
Some U.S. small and medium enterprises (SMEs) participate in trade missions but return with no results. Accordingly, some researchers question the effectiveness of these export promotion programs. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore the experiences of SME representatives who had attended a trade mission to South Africa. The research question explored the strategies that SME leaders required to successfully export their goods and services after a trade mission using the conceptual framework of resource-based theory. Snowball sampling was used to recruit and gather interview data from 22 SMEs. Thematic analysis of interview data and document sources, inductively and deductively coded, identified themes of strategic planning processes, country briefings, reasons for being in the country, resources, barriers, positive outcomes, and export commitments. Associated with these themes, 5 stages of the trade mission process and a model of the dynamic relationships in a trade mission emerged, which include recommendations of how to effect change in the process. The results from this study are expected to inform new interventions for export promotion programs for SME exporters. This study promotes social change by preparing SMEs to export, thus building more sustainable U.S. businesses. Applying these findings can support the development of SMEs to export and become long-term exporters benefiting the businesses, employees, and their communities through improved wages and increased tax revenues.