The Australian - The Deal - - Trends | People | Events - Spe­cial re­port on CEOs abroad, page 27

Anew sur­vey on the ex­pe­ri­ences and as­pi­ra­tions of 323 Aus­tralian busi­ness­women high­lights the achieve­ments made by many in for­eign mar­kets, as well as the daunt­ing chal­lenges faced by those yet to ven­ture abroad.

All the women sur­veyed by the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne’s Sarah Gund­lach and An­dre Sam­martino, in con­junc­tion with the fed­eral- state gov­ern­ment Women in Global Busi­ness ini­tia­tive, had key strate­gic de­ci­sion­mak­ing roles in their or­gan­i­sa­tions, and 186 owned their own busi­ness.

Of the busi­ness own­ers, 130 op­er­ated in­ter­na­tion­ally, while al­most all the em­ploy­ees worked in or­gan­i­sa­tions that op­er­ated over­seas. How­ever, those run­ning an over­seas busi­ness demon­strated a sig­nif­i­cantly higher level of risk tol­er­ance than their do­mes­tic coun­ter­parts.

The sur­vey iden­ti­fied nu­mer­ous bar­ri­ers to in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion: • A lack of knowl­edge about po­ten­tial mar­kets and as­sis­tance pro­grams. • The high cost of es­tab­lish­ing for­eign op­er­a­tions, the re­luc­tance of banks or fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions to fund ex­pan­sion and a lack of al­ter­na­tive sources of cap­i­tal. • Red tape and lo­gis­ti­cal dif­fi­cul­ties; find­ing sup­pli­ers or sup­ply chan­nels. • A lack of fe­male role mod­els, a lack of con­fi­dence in pur­su­ing over­seas op­por­tu­ni­ties or dif­fi­culty in manag­ing fam­ily and/or car­ing roles.

Other bar­ri­ers in­cluded strong over­seas com­pe­ti­tion, risks re­lated to ex­change rates, po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, mis­trust, fear or non- ac­cep­tance of women in busi­ness deal­ings.

Among the re­spon­dents, the most com­mon first ex­pan­sion coun­try was the US (14.2 per cent), fol­lowed by New Zealand (10.8 per cent) and then Bri­tain and China (both 10.3 per cent). The US (20.8 per cent) and China (14.8 per cent) scored high­est as the “most im­por­tant over­seas mar­ket or site for op­er­a­tions”.

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