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Santhakumar, PK 2016, 'Exporting dolomite refractories from India to Malaysia: marketing strategies for success', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright PK Santhakumar 2016


This exploratory research focused on exporting of dolomite refractories from India to Malaysia for application in steel mills. The research problem is ‘What is an effective strategic marketing program for the export of Indian dolomite refractories to steel mills in Malaysia?’ This study examines the challenges that Indian refractory firms faced in their efforts to export to Malaysia.

The research reviewed the key pertinent theories of international marketing and trade, internationalisation, the cultural relevance and the industry context. It also examined the government’s support policies for export growth of the Indian refractory industry. The literature review identified the gaps in the existing body of knowledge and these permitted the formulation of four research propositions for testing this research through a mixed methodology involving both qualitative and quantitative approaches with the former being the dominant methodology. Primary data was collected through personal interviews of an expert panel, a focus group meeting and a questionnaire survey.

The research findings highlighted the lack of clear directives, and the ineffective Indian government policies and regulatory framework for the development of the refractory industry to enter and compete successfully in the international market. The recommendations included enough participation by the industry firms and the need for seamless working procedures and strict implementation of policy guidelines.

The findings of the study also confirmed the need for policy framework to support the export initiatives of the Indian refractory industry. This includes creating a ‘single window clearance’ otherwise known as the ‘one stop agency’ to have the complete responsibility to critically review the present problems faced by the exporters and formulate the appropriate strategies and ensure implementation of all export support programmes.

The market for dolomite refractories in Malaysia is unique because of the type of ownership of the steel mills, the influence of the controlling stakeholders, government policies and the cultural environment. The research led to the following recommendations for the Indian dolomite refractory industry:

• Adapt to local business culture and think from the customer’s perspective and try not forcing things;

• Create a superior corporate image as an essential strategy in Malaysia;

• Create a unique differentiation strategy through Total Refractory Management (TRM) concept to demonstrate their commitment to business and also to win the confidence and loyalty of their customers;

• Enhance their competitive advantage through synergic partnership with steel mills and or the intermediaries; and

• Transform to be more competitive and sustainable in the global market.

In line with the research objectives, the research findings extended the body of knowledge on the research topic and contributed to new theory building. Finally, the study also offered recommendations for further research by undertaking a positivist and quantitative approach to test the Modified Export Strategy Framework developed by this research for the Indian refractory firms.