Doing Environment Business With China Through Cross-Cultural Networks: A Dynamic Model for Small-to-Medium Australian Enterprises
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The research is a critical analysis of the operational aspects of doing environment business with China through cross-cultural networks. In particular the investigation involved establishing an intensively documented, longitudinal profile of a single network. This network comprised Australian Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Chinese players based in the People's Republic of China. This profile covers a period of two decades. The research adopted a broad multi-disciplinary and inductive approach, using action research, case study methods, and systems analysis techniques. An innovative approach used time values as a constant to analyse the relativity of player connections, activities and structural levels in the network. This approach drew its applied orientation from the environmental sciences, and its theoretical base from the social science disciplines of marketing and international business. The specific field of study was the structure and evolutionary dynamics of networks. The outcome of the research is a model Australian SMEs can use for doing environment business with China. This model sets environment business in the context of a wider trading network of Chinese, Australian, South East Asian, and Middle Eastern players. The cornerstone of this model is the corporate role of the academic sector in accessing the Chinese environmental market. The research shows in detail how Australian SMEs can, and do, use cross-cultural academic linkages for trade. Such linkages facilitate market research, negotiation, risk management, product development, and the establishment of distribution channels in Asian markets. The study also demonstrates the importance of using a number of parallel nets of Chinese players to facilitate trade and overcome interruptions or obstacles. The research has contributed to knowledge by establishing an Asia-oriented, empirically derived model that differs substantially from the mono-cultural models in current practice in the Australian environment industry. The intensive investigation of the network of SMEs and Chinese players has identified the entrepreneurial strengths of SMEs in the international marketplace. This finding contrasts with the prevailing view that SMEs must depend on larger players for export success. In addition, the research has established that this kind of network has a clan-like structure. This finding is central to the model. The research demonstrates that a clan-like structure is a flexible framework that is compatible with the independence and capacity of small firms to adapt to change and to make decisions. This characteristic of SMEs enables them to proceed without, and at times in spite of, the encumbrances of large and unwieldy corporate and institutional structures. This finding is directly contrary to the belief prevalent in the Australian environment industry that SMEs depend on larger players to enter international markets. The finding also challenges the established view that Chinese networks are relatively closed systems based on family ties. The research shows that Australian SMEs can become part of these systems either directly or through links, and have many common attributes with their Chinese counterparts. The research has made a key contribution to theory by using these findings to develop an organic network model that differs from the so-called contrived network. This empirically derived theoretical model represents the seven dimensions of cross-cultural collaboration. The four social dimensions are the personal, organisational, sectoral and regional levels of a person-centred network, composed of nets of individuals with extensive linkages to other individuals and to organisations. The three dynamic dimensions are the triadic, the temporal, and the trading levels of interaction between the players. This theoretical model also demonstrates the depth of cross-connection between the nets of individual, and the embeddedness of the network in other networks. The model emphasises the centrality of time as the key connector between the social dimensions of the network and the exchange processes that characterise clan-like interactions. The model also represents the layers of evolutionary development that characterise the exchange processes in the network. These layers include adaptive processes, short-term exchanges, and long-term exchanges, and exchanges that derive from particular arrangements of players and market openings at critical points in time. This model extends concepts that have emerged from the original International Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) Interaction Model, and gives empirical credence to recent philosophical, but untested, views on the relevance of time as a context for interaction.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Environmental Sciences
Item Access Status
Australia and China