Original Research

Strategies for the declining printing industry: Diversification, consolidation, and internationalisation

Hussein Khan, John M. Luiz
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 54, No 1 | a3563 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v54i1.3563 | © 2023 Hussein Khan, John M. Luiz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 July 2022 | Published: 27 January 2023

About the author(s)

Hussein Khan, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
John M. Luiz, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; and, University of Sussex Business School, University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom


Purpose: The study explores how forces of disruption and innovation affect the printing industry in an emerging market context and how incumbent firms respond to the challenges associated with these forces.

Design; methodology approach: The research is an exploratory study based on qualitative analysis of senior managers within the South African large-scale printing industry that seeks to gain their perspectives on viable options to curb declining growth.

Findings/results: The study results are organised around the industry’s challenges, the organizational capabilities required to address these challenges and the opportunities presented by the market disruption. Respondents argue that opportunities exist within the sector but that this requires fresh thinking and a more entrepreneurial approach. Strategies highlighted include consolidation, diversification and internationalisation.

Originality value: The study applies theories associated with disruptive innovation and creative destruction to an industry facing long-term structural decline. Respondents maintain that there are options for growth even in the face of such disruption and address the role of management and entrepreneurial activities in this regard.

Practical implications: The study results suggest that for smaller, more agile printers there are opportunities to take advantage of disruptive innovation, especially where they have less legacy baggage and fewer sunk costs to recuperate. For the larger printing firms there may be tangential opportunities to go ‘downmarket’ into less developed countries that are often at earlier stages of market disruption. Further innovation is required to stave off the decline prevalent in the traditional printing industry and embrace a growth mentality.

Contribution: The article demonstrates the application of disruptive innovation in an emerging market context and the role of strategic management in addressing such disruption through consolidation, diversification, efficiency drives, and internationalisation.


market disruption; disruptive innovation; creative destruction; consolidation; diversification; internationalisation; strategic agility

JEL Codes

F23: Multinational Firms • International Business; L84: Personal, Professional, and Business Services; M16: International Business Administration; M21: Business Economics

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure


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