CEOs: International Expansion is Good Business –

Despite slower economic conditions, seven out of 10 CEOs from emerging and established U.S. technology companies plan to continue their international business expansion.

Moreover, 89% say they recognize the competitive disadvantages of not being first to market in a new territory, In addition, 76% recognize the importance of international growth to the success of technology companies.

The first Measurement of CEO Attitudes on Global Expansion was undertaken by an independent market research firm and commissioned by Protege Group, a leader in accelerating technology businesses internationally. The survey of 123 professionals was released on Thursday.

Larry Levy, CEO, Protege Group, said now is not the time to sacrifice expansion. “This is a period when you can really accelerate your market position, if you choose the right partners and approaches,” he said. “In good times and bad, there will always be opportunities for U.S. technology companies in Europe,” he added.

Paul Lego, CEO of Virage, a leader in streaming media based in San Mateo, Calif., who said his company now generates a significant portion of its worldwide revenue from Europe, noted that companies must understand their markets, customers and value proposition before embark on anything. “Expansion outside the U.S. is critical to the future of a young company,” he said.

(The survey noted that CEOs and VCs disagree on some points concerning international strategy. But it should be pointed out that while 113 CEOs were interviewed, only 10 VCs were interviewed, and thus the comparisons are not valid.)

Other survey findings:

74% percent of CEOs say the most common means of deciding where to expand is to gather information available in the public domain, such as media reports. Only 37% systematically commission independent market research before entering new markets.
74% percent of U.S. CEOs say that Western Europe is the most important global market to target for international expansion.
90% of the European managing directors who participated in benchmark interviews say that the buying behavior of business customers in Europe differ from those in the U.S. However, only 60% of the CEOs already doing business in Europe and 48% of CEOs not doing business overseas agree that buying behaviors differ.
67% of CEOs think that European business culture is slower paced than the U.S.
Gaining customers ranks highest among international priorities for CEOs already doing business abroad, followed by speed to market and finding location talent and partners.