SCOTLAND must become less inward-looking, strengthen its global mindset and export more, according to a new report by two former SNP MPs.

Only 29% of the 1000 contributors from 74 countries to the Perceptions of the Scottish Business Diaspora research by Michelle Thomson and Roger Mullin thought Scotland was “outward-looking”.

Scottish business diaspora was defined as those born Scottish or who have worked, studied or have family connections with Scotland.

When asked about “positive descriptors” in relation to how Scotland is perceived, 72% of respondents described Scotland as “friendly”, 45% described the nation as “resilient”, 44% classified Scotland as “entrepreneurial” and 35% said it was “progressive”.

The study asked business owners, founders, directors or senior executives from SMEs to large corporates.

The survey was commissioned by the Scottish Business Network (SBN) and compiled by Momentous Change, a consultancy firm run by Thomson and Mullin.

The report also called for a detailed review of “how best to brand Scotland in terms of international trade”.

Thomson said Scottish businesses can learn from the Irish who are experts at promoting their brand globally.

“You can go into any town anywhere around the world and find an Irish bar,” she added. “That’s not just a place where people go to socialise, it’s a place where people go to meet and where business connections are made. Scotland is quite poor at utilising its diaspora but we can get better at it and we must get better at it.”

Thomson called for a collaborative approach with organisations like Scottish Businesses Network, CBI and Global Scot Network working with businesses on the issue.

She said she was surprised by the extent to which Scotland was viewed as inward-looking in the study and called for businesses to recognise their unique position in the world and the UK.

She added: “I don’t think we are utilising what people associate with Scots – our honesty our empathy, how we do our business. I don’t think Scots businesses appreciate how much that is a unique part of Scotland the brand. That is not associated with the rest of the UK.”

Mullin agreed, saying: “A key finding is the importance of culture and understanding how to best do business within that culture.”

Kingsley Aiken, a recognised world leader on harnessing and developing diaspora, welcomed the report. He said: “In a world where major powers are looking inwards small countries like Scotland and Ireland need to do the opposite and build global networks of affluence and influence.”