When it comes to naming a source of competitive advantage, New Zealand businesses rate their concern about ethical business practices more highly than other countries with mature economies, according to the latest findings of an international survey.
But they give their highest competitive rating to product and service quality.
Accounting and business advisory firm Grant Thornton’s International Business Report saw 75% of the privately-held New Zealand businesses surveyed giving a tick to ethical business practices as one of their main sources of competitive advantage. This put them ahead of their Australian counterparts on this score – in Australia, the figure was 66%.
Otherwise, those who rated ethical business practices highest as a competitive advantage were all in emerging markets, with 84% in Botswana, 83% in Vietnam, 76% in Mexico and 75% in India.
But product and service quality scored higher as a competitive factor, according to the New Zealand businesses. In all, 77% rated it as a main source of competitive advantage.
However, almost all other countries surveyed also rated the same factor highly, topped by Vietnam (92%), Greece (90%), Mexico and Botswana (both 88%).
New Zealand’s geographical position was reflected in the fact that the lowest-scoring competitive advantage was international market links, with only 21% of the local respondents citing this as a factor.
Grant Thornton New Zealand spokesman Peter Sherwin commented: “New Zealand is in a major battle when it comes to competing on product and service quality. It is the dominant factor in the minds of all other countries surveyed, with the exception of China and Turkey, where brand strength rated slightly higher as a source of competitive advantage.
If the global economic downturn continues for much longer, the focus may have to go on cost management and strategic pricing policies, while other standards, including service and product quality, are maintained. It is going to be a challenge.”
He added: “It is obviously pleasing to see ethical business practices rating so highly here.
“New Zealand businesses are right to rate ethical behaviour as a key competitive advantage. Our exporters (especially dairy, meat, forestry and tourism) are coming under increasing competitive pressure over such things as carbon emissions and food miles.
“Our solid ethical behaviour should be emphasised alongside our clean green image, especially in an often unjust world.”
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The International Business Report surveyed more than 7,500 owners of medium sized businesses in 34 countries. In New Zealand, Consumer Link surveyed 150 businesses. For the purposes of the IBR survey, a medium-sized business in New Zealand was seen as employing between 10 and 149 people. The research was conducted by Experian Business Strategies Limited and Harris Interactive. All figures were correct at time of going to press. To find out more about IBR and to obtain details of IBR reports and results please visit www.internationalbusinessreport.com.
Grant Thornton International is one of the world's leading organisations of independently owned and managed accounting and consulting firms providing assurance, tax and specialist business advice to privately held businesses and public interest entities. The strength of each local firm is reflected in the quality of the international organisation. All Grant Thornton International member firms share a commitment to providing the same high quality service to their clients wherever they choose to do business.