Software Export Success Factors and Strategies in Developing and Transitional Economies

Richard Heeks and Brian Nicholson


Many developing and transitional economies have become active or interested in software exports. This paper analyses the experiences of the three largest exporters - India, Ireland and Israel. It develops a 'Software Export Success Model' on the basis of that analysis. It uses the model to investigate current strengths and weaknesses of three 'second-tier' exporters: Russia, the Philippines, and China. It then draws some conclusions about recommended actions for these and other would-be software exporting nations.

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Educator's guide

Synopsis questions

  1. Why should developing and transitional economies (DTEs) target software exports? [part A]
  2. Summarise the historical and statistical similarities and differences between the '3I' software-exporting nations. [part B]
  3. What is the 'Software Export Success Model' (SESM), and how has it been developed? [part C]
  4. How well do the three 'second-tier' software-exporting nations match up to the SESM? [part D]
  5. Summarise the key recommendations for software-exporting nations deriving from the SESM. [part E]

Development questions

  1. Is it appropriate to include Israel and Ireland in a paper on 'developing and transitional economies'?  What impact might inclusion of these two countries have on the validity of this paper's analysis and conclusions?
  2. How broad and how credible is the base of evidence used to develop the SESM?
  3. Identify a seventh DTE software-exporting country, and analyse its strengths and weaknesses against the SESM.   What recommendations would you make to government officials in this country for future software export sector development?
  4. Divide into two groups.  One group should prepare and present arguments in favour of one or both of the following propositions.  The other group should prepare and present arguments against:
    • "Software exports should be a key focal sector for developing and transitional economies in the 21 st century."
    • "Developing and transitional economy governments should actively intervene to support the development of their national software export sector."