Functional Upgrading, Relational Capability and Export Performance of Vietnamese Wood Furniture Producers

Pham Thi Song Hanh

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Departing from my interest in finding key factors determining a developing country firms’ export success, this research explores two fascinating topics: one is the debate on whether a developing country’s producers should become involved in marketing functions where a developed country’s firms already hold a strong position, and the other is the very limited attention given in the export literature to the role of relational capability in a firm’s export business.
This research applies value chain analysis to examine the link between functional upgrading and a firm’s export performance. The resource based view, dynamic capability perspective, and relationship management literature are also used in the research to study the role of a firm’s relational capability in its export business. The research includes an explorative study and a hypothesis testing study. A qualitative methodology with in-depth interviews, direct observation and case study analysis methods was employed in the explorative study. The quantitative methodology based on statistic tools including confirmative factor analysis and linear multiple regression was applied in the hypothesis testing study. Empirical studies were done in Vietnam’s wood furniture industry. The findings from the explorative study signal the positive impact of functional upgrading and relationship development on a firm’s export development. The findings show that combination of different functions in different value chains is a good strategy for long term development the global market. The findings from the hypothesis testing study generally confirms the positive relationship between marketing function and export success of a developing country firm and relational capability is a critical capability for a its export business. Specifically, data analysis results confirm the positive effects export market intelligence, export promotion, export product adaptation, and export pricing, although the significances of export distribution and after export sale activities were not confirmed. Relational capability was empirically confirmed to not only directly contribute to export performance but also strengthen the efficiency of export marketing activities including export marketing intelligence and pricing.
The research provides some theoretical and managerial contributions. This research provides an answer to the debate by arguing that moving beyond manufacturing to marketing function will lead to a firm’s export success. This
research not only proves that functional upgrading closely links to firm's export success but also points out how each specific marketing responsibility contributed to a firm’s export success. In addition, this research makes the dynamic capabilities approach more applicable to the extent that it specifies that dynamic capabilities include relational capability. This research brings a new light to the export literature that relational capability is an important determinant factor on export success. Moreover, this research suggests that firms should be active in both relationship development and export marketing responsibility. The research also points out which export marketing activities a firm should focus on more and which skills contributing to relational capability that a firm should develop. Finally, the research signalizes some of its drawbacks which might be made good in future research in this field.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Number of pages171
ISBN (Print)9788759383742
Publication statusPublished - 2008
SeriesPhD series


  • Vietnam
  • Functional upgrading
  • Relational capability
  • Export performance

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