Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Management, Rasht Branch, Islamic Azad University, Rasht, Iran

2 Department of Management, Semnan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Semnan, Iran

3 Islamic Azad University, Rasht Branch

4 MA in Business Management, Department of Management, Rasht Branch, Islamic Azad University, Rasht, Iran


The rapid world economic growth has driven the businesses towards involvement in international marketplaces due to lower business risks, lower commitment of resources, and higher flexibility of these markets. However, evidence indicates that barriers to exportation vary across different stages of internationalization. Therefore, this empirical study was carried out to explore exportation barriers of agricultural commodities, especially honey, in Iran. Based on an explorative literature review, several factors were considered as export barriers of agricultural commodities. These barriers were provided to a sample of 20 honey exporters in Ardabil province using a questionnaire. After collecting and analyzing the data, 21 factors were identified as the important barriers to honey export. A graph theory-based technique (DEMATEL) with feedback structure was used to explore the direct and indirect effects of barriers on the other barriers and the whole system. The results indicate that adjusting export promotion activities, lack of home government assistance/incentives, shortage of working capital to finance exports, high tariff and nontariff barriers, different foreign customer habits/attitudes are the most critical barriers in the order of importance. 


Expansion of international trade is a very important issue especially in developing countries.

Companies in developing countries usually encounter many export barriers while entering new markets.

Mathematical models are useful tools to identify critical barriers to export.

Graph theory-based method (DEMATEL) is used to identify critical barriers of honey export in Ardebil province.

The results show the most critical export barriers among all.


Main Subjects

Alexandrides, C.G. (1971). How the major obstacles to exporting can be overcome. Atlantic Economic Review, 2, 12–15.

Altintas, M.H., Tokol, T., & Harcar, T. (2007). The effect of export barriers on perceived export performance. EuroMed Journal of Business, 2 (1), 36–56.

Arteaga-Ortiz, J., & Fernández-Ortiz, R. (2010). Why don't we use the same export barrier measurement scale: An empirical analysis in small and medium-sized enterprises? Journal of Small Business Management, 48 (3), 395-420.

Barker, A.T., & Kaynak, E. (1992). An empirical investigation of the differences between initiating and continuing exporters. European Journal of Marketing, 26 (3), 27–36.

Bauerschmidth, A., Sullivan, D., & Gulespic, K. (1985). Common factors underlying barriers to export: Studies in the US paper industry. Journal of International Business Studies, 16 (3), 111-123.

Bilkey, W.J., & Tesar, G. (1977). The export behaviour of smaller Wisconsin manufacturing firms. Journal of International Business Studies, 8 (1), 93–98.

Bilkey, W. J. (1978). An attempted integration of the literature on the export behavior of firms. Journal of International Business Studies, 9(1), 33–46.

Bodur, M. (1986). A study in the nature and intensity of problems experienced by Turkish exporting firms, Advances in International Marketing, 1, 205-232.

Brooks, M.R., & Frances, A. (1991). Barriers to exporting: An exploratory study of Latin American companies, in Seringhouse, F.H.R. & Rosson, P. (Eds), Export Development and Promotion: The Role of Public Organizations, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, MA.

Burton, F.N., & Schlegelmilch, B.B. (1987). Profile analyses of non-exporters versus exporters grouped by export involvement. Management International Review, 27 (1), 38–49.

Cavusgil, S.T. (1977). Organizational determinants of firms’ export behavior: An empirical analysis. Unpublished dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Cavusgil, S.T. (1984). Organizational characteristics associated with export activity. Journal of Management Studies, 21 (1), 3–22.

Cavusgil, S.T., & Nevin, J.R. (1981). Internal determinants of export marketing behavior: An empirical investigation. Journal of Marketing Research, 18 (1), 114–119.

Cavusgil, S.T., & Yeoh, P.L. (1994). Public sector promotion of US export activity: A review and directions for the future. Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, 13 (1), 76–84.

Chang, B., Chang, C.W., & Wu, C.H. (2011). Fuzzy DEMATEL method for developing supplier selection criteria. Expert Systems with Applications, 38, 1850-1858.

Cheong, W.K., & Chong, K.W. (1988). Export behavior of small firms in Singapore. International Small Business Journal, 6 (2), 34–41.

Da Rocha, A., Freitas, Y.A., & Dilva, J.F.D. (2008). Do perceived export barriers change over time? A longitudinal study of Brazilian exporters of manufactured goods. Latin American Business Review, 9 (1), 102–128.

Da Rocha, A., & Christensen, C.H. (1994). The Exporting Experience of a Developing Country: A review of empirical studies of export behavior and the performance of Brazilian firms. Advances in International Marketing, 6, 111 - 142.

Figueiredo, K.F., & Almeida, L.F. (1988). Export barriers in Brazil, in Da Rocha, A. (Ed.), The Management of Exporting in Brazil: Problems and Opportunities, Haworth Press, Sao Paulo, 73-86.

Gabus, A., & Fontela, E. (1972). World problems and invitation to further thought within the framework of DEMATEL. Switzerland Geneva: Battelle Geneva Research Centre.

Given, L.M. (2008). The sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sage Publications. ISBN 1-4129-4163-6.

Gripsrud, G. (1990). The determinants of export decision and attitude to a distant market: Norwegian fishery export to Japan. Journal of International Business Studies, 21 (3), 469–485.

Henson, S. J., Loader, R. J., Swinbank, A., Bredahl, M., & Lux, N. (2000). Impact of sanitary and phytosanitary measures on developing countries. Reading: Department of Agricultural and Food Economics, The University of Reading

Hook, R.C., & Czinkota, M.R. (1988). Export activities and prospects of Hawaiian firms. International Marketing Review, 5(4), 51-57.

Huang, C.Y., Shyu, J.Z., & Tzeng, G.H. (2007). Reconfiguring the innovation policy portfolios for Taiwan’s SIP mall industry. Technovation, 29, 744-765.

Imbs, J., & Wacziarg, R. (2003). Stages of diversification. American Economic Review, 93, 63–86.

Kahiya, E., & Dean, D. (2016). Export Stages and Export Barriers: Revisiting Traditional Export Development. Thunderbird International Business Review, 58 (1), 75–89.

Kaleka, A., & Katsikeas, C.S. (1995). Exporting problems: The relevance of export development. Journal of Marketing Management, 11, 499–515.

Katsikeas, C.S., & Morgan, R.E. (1994). Differences in perceptions of exporting problems based on firm size and export market experience. European Journal of Marketing, 28 (5), 17–35.

Kaynak, E., & Kothari, V. (1984). Export behavior of small and medium-sized manufacturers: Some policy guidelines for international marketers. Management International Review, 24 (2), 61–69.

Kaynak, E., Ghuari, P.N., & Olofsson-Bredenlow, T. (1987). Export behavior of small Swedish firms. Journal of Small Business Management, 25 (2), 26–32.

Keng, K.A., & Jiuan, T.S. (1989). Differences between small and medium sized exporting and non-exporting firms: Nature and nurture. International Marketing Review, 6 (4), 27–40.

Lee, C.W., & Tzeng, G.H. (2009).Identification of a threshold value for the DEMATEL method using the maximum mean de-entropy algorithm to find critical services provided by a semiconductor intellectual property mall. Expert Systems with Applications, 36, 9891–9898.

Leonidou, L.C. (1995). Export barriers: Non-exporters perceptions. International Marketing Review, 12(1), 4–25.

Leonidou, L.C. (2004). An analysis of the barriers hindering small business export development. Journal of Small Business Management, 42 (3), 279–302.

Lin, C.J., & Wu, W.W. (2008). A causal analytical method for group decision-making under fuzzy environment. Expert Systems with Applications, 34, 205-213.

Liou, J.J.H. & Chuang, Y.T. (2010). Developing a hybrid multi-criteria model for selection of outsourcing providers. Expert Systems with Applications, 37, 3755–3761.

Liou, J.J.H., & Tzeng, G.H. (2007). A non-additive model for evaluating airline service quality. Journal of Air Transport Management, 13, 131-138.

McCalla, A.F., & Nash, J. (2007). Reforming agricultural trade for developing countries. Retrieved from

Morawitz, D. (1981). Why the emperor’s new clothes are not made in Colombia. World Bank, Washington, DC.

Morgan, R.E. (1997). Export stimuli and export barriers: Evidence from empirical research studies. European Business Review, 97 (2), 68–79.

Morgan, R.E., & Katsikeas, C.S. (1997). Obstacles to export initiation and expansion. International Journal of Management Science, 25 (6), 677–690.

Morgan, R.E., & Katsikeas, C.S. (1998). Exporting problems of industrial manufacturers. Industrial Marketing Management, 27, 161–176.

Pinho, J.C., & Martins, L. (2010). Exporting barriers: Insights from Portuguese small and medium-sized exporters and non-exporters. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 8 (3), 254–272.

Rabino, S. (1980). An examination of barriers to exporting encountered by small manufacturing companies. Management International Review, 20 (1), 67–73.

Rahman, M.M., & Dutta, D. (2012). The Gravity Model Analysis of Bangladesh's Trade: A Panel Data Approach. Journal of Asia-Pacific Business. 13 (3), 263- 286.

Sankar, N.R., & Prabhu, B.S. (2001). Modified approach for prioritization of failures in a system failure mode and effects analysis. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 18, 324-335.

Sharkey, T.W., Lim, J.S., & Kim, K.I. (1989). Export development and perceived export barriers: An empirical analysis of small firms. Management International Review, 29 (2), 33–40.

Shaw, V., & Darroch, J. (2004). Barriers to internationalization: A study of entrepreneurial new ventures in New Zealand. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 2, 327–343.

Sposi, M. (2015). Trade barriers and the relative price of tradables. Journal of International Economics, 96, 398–411.

Suarez-Ortega, S. (2003). Export barriers: Insights from small and medium-sized firms. International Small Business Journal, 21 (4), 403–419.

Tesfom, G., & Lutz, C. (2006). A classification of export marketing problems of small and medium sized manufacturing firms in developing countries. International Journal of Emerging Markets, 1 (3), 262–281.

Tsai, W.H., & Chou, W.C. (2009). Selecting management systems for sustainable development in SMEs: A novel hybrid model based on DEMATEL, ANP and ZOGP. Expert Systems with Applications, 36, 1444-1458.

Tzeng, G.H., Chiang, C.H., & Li, C.W. (2006). Evaluating intertwined effects in E-learning programs: A novel hybrid MCDM model based on factor analysis and DEMATEL. Expert Systems with Applications, 32, 1028-1044.

Uner, M.M., Kocak, A., Cavusgil, E., & Cavusgil, S.T. (2013). Do barriers to export vary for born globals and across stages of internationalization? An empirical inquiry in the emerging market of Turkey. International Business Review, 22, 800-813.

Wang, Y.L., & Tzeng, G.H. (2012). Brand marketing for creating brand value based on a MCDM model combining DEMATEL with ANP and VIKOR methods. Expert Systems with Applications, 39, 5600-5615.

Wu, W.W. (2008). Choosing knowledge management strategies by using a combined ANP and DEMATEL approach. Expert Systems with Applications, 35, 828-835.

Wu, W.W. (2012). Segmenting critical factors for successful knowledge management implementation using the fuzzy DEMATEL method. Applied Soft Computing, 12, 527-535.

Wu, W.W., & Lee, Y.T. (2007). Developing global managers’ competencies using the fuzzy DEMATEL method. Expert Systems with Applications, 32, 499-507.

Yaprak, A. (1985). An empirical study of the differences between small exporting and non-exporting US firms. International Marketing Review, 2 (2), 72–83.

Zhou, Q., Huang, W., & Zhang, Y. (2011). Identifying critical success factors in emergency management using a fuzzy DEMATEL method. Safety Science, 49, 243-252.