3674 Exploring Export Barriers of Cleantech Businesses: An Interview Survey of Swedish Cleantech Companies

Claes Gunnarsson , Swedish business school at örebro university, örebro, Sweden
Per Frankelius , Swedish business school at örebro university, örebro, Sweden
Claes Hultman , Swedish business school at örebro university, örebro, Sweden
Conny Johanzon , Swedish business school at örebro university, örebro, Sweden
Gabriel Linton , Swedish business school at örebro university, örebro, Sweden
Full Papers
  • Paper_Barrier-breakthrough_GIN 2012_final.pdf (267.8 kB)
  • Justification of the paper:

    The Swedish paradox indicates that high-tech exports are low given the high R&D investments (Ejemo and Kander, 2006). The most significant barriers for commercialization among cleantech companies are related to competence and customer relations (Englund, 2010; Englund and Hjelm, 2011; Frankelius et al, 2011; Valdmaa and Kalvet, 2011). Empirical findings indicate obstacles in developing, substantiating, communicating or realizing compelling customer value propositions. Research is warranted into how competence in matching R&D and customer’s demands allows for cleantch companies to stretch their capabilities to achieve commercial barrier break-trough.


    To describe export commercialization barriers of Swedish cleantech companies and analyze qualifying constituents of barrier-breaking value propositions to achieve commercial breakthrough on international markets. The empirical data was collected through an in-depth interview survey of 47 Swedish cleantech companies.

    Theoretical framework:

    The cleantech mystery (Frankelius et al, 2011) points out the significance of employing a multi-perspective approach to accurately illuminate central aspects of commercialization barriers in the cleantech business. The CRIM-modell (Frankelius et al), outlines four perspectives to identify cleantech barriers: Cluster-view; Resource-based view; Institutional-perspective, and the Market orientation perspective. Increased knowledge about factors which influence the perception of commercialization barriers is warranted from a multi-perspective approach as this addresses insights to improve cleantech companies’ customer value propositions.

    A customer value proposition constitutes the central component in a business model which outlines the benefits and favorable points of product differentiation of a customer value generating offering (Anderson, Naurus and van Rossum, 2006). The design and function of the value proposition relates to the company’s ability to overcome barriers by matching competencies and market opportunities.  A customer performance oriented value proposition addresses a main feature of a green business model for achieving successful commercialization of environmental technology (OECD, 2012). Accordingly, this put particular emphasis on the usefulness of combining the market orientation view and the natural resource-based view on examining the strategic role of value propositions as related to the barriers of export commercialization of cleantech companies. A Competence-propelled strategy serves as an offspring for overcoming barriers of commercialization and competence extension management includes the phases of estimating competence requirements and assessing in-house competence to identify possible competence gaps or shortfalls (Grönhaug and Nordhaug, 1992). Furthermore, competence extension needs to address the impact of environmental regulations on customer value propositions.


    The empirical findings point at different patterns of export commercialization barriers and constituents of compelling customer value propositions among high- or low-tech (clean-tech) companies. The company’s market oriented strategies address the perception of barriers and may therefore shape the strategic intent as well as the qualifying elements of the customer value proposition. The empirical cases are also analyzed according to the level of international involvement (high- or low- degree of internationalization).


    An important feature of concern for cleantech businesses is to thoroughly understand the impact of the institutional and political environment. For these particular companies, environmental rules and regulations create industry specific conditions (or barriers) for export commercialization.