Scenario of Sports Materials
Much of the research on barriers to growth of small firms has been based on cross sectional
surveys that present the owner/manager with a list of barriers and a scale on which they could
rate the applicability of that barrier to their own firm. However, this limits the depth of
analysis considerably. First of all, it is based on perceptions, which may not match actual
experiences. Secondly, it provides limited policy implications as it falls short of identifying
the specific parts of the problematic process.
Keeping this in mind, our approach in this paper was to conduct detailed semi-structured
interviews with a small representative sample of firms in the light engineering sectors. This
allowed a greater depth of analysis, complementing the less detailed but large, cross sectional
studies already available.
The focus of the study is on the fans and sports goods sectors of Pakistan. These sectors were
chosen because of the variation they provide: the sports goods sector is forward looking,
highly enterprising and export oriented while the fan manufacturing sector is largely inward
looking and appears to be trapped in a cycle of low quality and low profitability.
Twelve firms were chosen in each sector such that we had a variation in growth paths. We
used existing data on the population of firms to identify the distribution of firms within each
sector. For the firms in the fan sector we used a data set of 125 firms covering 70 per cent of
the sector. Using this distribution, a purposive sample was selected such that we had as
adequate a representation as we could manage within the limitations of a small sample size.
Firms that responded positively were then interviewed. For Sports Goods we held a focus
group at the office of the sports goods association in Sialkot and with their help firms that
were suited to the applied methodology were selected out of a total of 450 firms. We
interviewed at least one of the top few players in the market, so that we could determine how
the obstacles were circumvented and what the key determinants of high growth were in that
sector. In addition, we interviewed firms that appeared to be struggling to gauge what the
most severe barriers to growth are. The remaining sample was made of firms that lie in
between, for example those firms that appear to be on the cusp of breaking into export
markets. This allowed us to establish the characteristics that allow some firms to grow despite
the barriers that they face, and compare them to firms that have managed to survive but have
had more limited growth.
The interviews were open ended, and the firms were directed to lead by suggesting the
barriers that they considered most important. We did not give them a list to choose from, as
other cross sectional surveys have done, as we did not want that to influence their responses.
In addition, we spoke to the firms not just about their own experiences, but also about
perceptions on the industry and the performance of other firms in the sector. We also sought
their opinions on the issues flagged up by other interviewees, in order to corroborate the
information and get a more accurate and unbiased understanding of the industry. Using this
iterative strategy, we are able to minimise the influence of idiosyncratic perceptions, giving
more importance to opinions and perceptions that were unanimously held. However, given
the small sample size, we do not discard conflicting views, but present them as areas which
would benefit from further inquiry.
Types of Sports Materials
In this section we make use of the several recent surveys that have explored the constraints
faced by industry in Pakistan.
A useful starting point is the World Bank Enterprise Survey, which is administered to a
representative sample of private non-agricultural firms across a host of countries. The survey
aims to assess and track changes in the business environment by collecting a wide range of
qualitative and quantitative information, including perceptions data on obstacles to doing
business across a range of factors: infrastructure, trade, finance, regulations, taxes and
business licensing, corruption, crime and informality, finance, innovation and labour. Two
measures collected by the Enterprise Surveys are of particular interest for the purposes of our
study: the “top obstacle” to doing business identified by the firms, and the identification of a
factor as a “major constraint”. For the former, firms are presented with a list of fifteen factors
of which they select the one that is biggest obstacle faced by the firm. For the latter, when
investigating a particular factor, the firm is asked if it presents a major constraint to daily
operations. The Enterprise Survey was last conducted in Pakistan in 2007, surveying over
Pakistani Sports Materials
ther useful reference points are the World Bank Enterprise Analysis Unit and the
Investment Climate Assessment surveys. The Enterprise Analysis Unit administered the WB
Enterprise survey questionnaire to a group of 385 Pakistani firms in 2007 and again in 2010.
The Investment Climate Survey also collected data on the perceptions of the business
environment in 2002 and 2007. The ICS has also been used as the starting point by Hussain at
al (2012) to identify the constraints faced by Pakistani firms specifically in Punjab. Together
the results from these surveys enable us not just to get a snapshot of the constraints that are
most relevant at a point in time, but also to observe trends that facilitate a deeper
understanding of the business environment.
The chart below compares the top obstacle reported in the WB Enterprise Survey by
businesses in Pakistan compared to other countries in South Asia in 2007. Electricity appears
to be the most critical constraint, followed by corruption and crime, all three of which were
considered more severe than they were in other countries in the region. Access to fina