Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Paper presented at the 47th Congress of European Regional Science Association 29th August to 2nd September 2007 - Paris, France


An EFER report in 1995 observed that little of the growth ofEurope’s top 500 companies came from existing products in existing markets, but almost two-thirds of the growth came from entering new markets. A large majority of Europe’s 500 are active in export markets, with exports accounting for 40% of their turnover as opposed to the 10% export share for SMEs overall. One of the critical reasons for the poor performance of SMEs within the international arena is their ignorance of local business cultures. Yet for a country – or a specific region – to achieve strong economic growth, it is imperative that its indigenous firms develop a high level of export activity. This paper is based upon the work of an EU initiative with the project title “Passport to Trade” whose primary objective was to improve the existing vocational training materials in business culture for SMEs, incorporating material from across the whole EU. A needs analysis was conducted across the EU and qualitative testing in three markets. An on-line delivery method was developed which allowa SMEs and their employees to access training materials remotely at their convenience thereby effectively removing one of the major obstacles to exporting.