MIPd - Managing international partnerships digitally

The purpose of the project was to develop the digitally supported MIPd model for the management of international sales partnerships and thus contribute to the success of Swiss SMEs in their export business.


  • Lead school School of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Additional schools Business School
  • Institute Institute for Data Applications and Security (IDAS)
    Institute for Marketing & Global Management
  • Research unit IDAS / International Management
  • Funding organisation Innosuisse
  • Duration 01.11.2021 - 31.12.2023
  • Project management Prof. Dr. Paul Ammann
  • Head of project Prof. Dr. Paul Ammann
  • Project staff Prof. Anna Knutti
  • Partner Fachhochschule Graubünden
  • Keywords Export, Distribution, sales partners


Many Swiss SMEs sell one hundred percent of their exports through distributors; these are companies in export markets that sell products from international manufacturers in their markets. The exporting SMEs are too small to establish their own sales offices. Hence the partnership with these distributors is a key success factor in the export business, as they account for a large part of the foreign sales. The Covid-19 pandemic prevented in-person meetings from taking place in the field, making it more difficult for Swiss exporters to work with their distribution partners. The project demonstrates how the process of collaboration with sales partners can be optimised and supported by digital technologies.

Course of action

The project developed a model for the digitally supported management of international distribution partnerships, comprising the management tasks of selection, qualification, motivation and evaluation of the sales partners. It shows how best to structure the processes for accomplishing these tasks and what digital technologies can support their implementation. Thus, the project makes a significant contribution to the future success of export-oriented companies.


The first step is to select the distribution partner in the export country. The search for partners can be active as well as passive. In a passive search, the exporter draws attention to himself by spreading information about his company and products on the internet and on social media, in the hope that potential distribution partners will approach him. The selection also includes analysing the company’s internationalisation strategy and defining the division of tasks between exporter and distributors. After the selection, it is important for the partners to undergo qualification and training. E-learning platforms, AR and VR are IT applications that can systematise knowledge transfer and facilitate the qualification of partners. Knowledge alone is not enough: the next step is to motivate the distribution partners. This involves initiating loyalty-strengthening measures and encouraging sales by providing clear targets and incentives. Finally, evaluation is a substantial component of managing international distribution partnerships. Ongoing, mutual evaluation is about monitoring the success of both parties and making adjustments at the exporter’s or the partner’s end, as necessary. By carefully optimising the four sub-processes with the support of digital applications, companies can significantly increase efficiency and effectiveness in managing their international sales partners.

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 8: Decent work and economic growth