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The effect of matching on perceived export barriers and performance in an era of globalization discontents: Empirical evidence from UK SMEs


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In this study we examine the effect of matching, a comprehensive networking concept, on the perceived export barriers and export performance of small exporting firms. We introduce matching as a moderating variable affecting the link of perceived internal/external export barriers to export performance. Using a sample of 106 UK-based exporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), we find that matching alleviates the negative impact of perceived internal export barriers on export performance. Furthermore, the empirical results show that export experience and export commitment reduce managers' perceived internal and external export barriers. The study shows that matching, as a networking-tool at multiple levels, can help to overcome export barriers, thus providing a mechanism to offset challenges opened up through nationalistic policies.
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Running head: MATCHING 1
The effect of matching on perceived export barriers and performance in an era of globalization
discontents: Empirical evidence from UK SMEs
This is a pre-print / an Author’s Original Manuscript (AAM) of an article published by
Elsevier in International Business Review. Please cite the published article:
Sinkovics, Rudolf R., Yusuf Kurt, and Noemi Sinkovics (2018), "The effect of matching on
perceived export barriers and performance in an era of globalization discontents: Empirical
evidence from UK SMEs," International Business Review, 27(5), 1065-1079.
Rudolf R. Sinkovics
The University of Manchester, Alliance Manchester Business School
Booth Street West, Manchester M15 6PB, UK.
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Skinnarilankatu 34, PL 20, 53851 Lappeenranta, Finland
Temple University, Fox School of Business, Department of Strategic Management
Alter Hall, 1801 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
Yusuf Kurt
The University of Manchester, Alliance Manchester Business School
Booth Street West, Manchester M15 6PB, UK.
Noemi Sinkovics
The University of Manchester, Alliance Manchester Business School
Booth Street West, Manchester M15 6PB, UK.
Temple University, Fox School of Business, Department of Strategic Management
Alter Hall, 1801 Liacouras Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
In this study we examine the effect of matching, a comprehensive networking concept, on the
perceived export barriers and export performance of small exporting firms. We introduce
matching as a moderating variable affecting the link of perceived internal/external export barriers
to export performance. Using a sample of 106 UK-based exporting small and medium enterprises
(SMEs), we find that matching alleviates the negative impact of perceived internal export
barriers on export performance. Furthermore, the empirical results show that export experience
and export commitment reduce managers' perceived internal and external export barriers. The
study shows that matching, as a networking-tool at multiple levels, can help to overcome export
barriers, thus providing a mechanism to offset challenges opened up through nationalistic
Internationalization; Matching; export barriers; export commitment; export performance; SMEs;
Author note
Correspondence should be addressed to Rudolf Sinkovics, The University of Manchester,
Alliance Manchester Business School, Booth Street West, Manchester M15 6PB, United
Kingdom. Email:, Web:
We gratefully acknowledge insightful comments received from Mo Yamin, S. Tamer Cavusgil
and Ram Mudambi during seminars at The University of Manchester, Alliance Manchester
Business School, UK and Fox School of Business, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA.
Biographic notes
Yusuf Kurt (PhD, The University of Manchester) is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in International
Business and Management at Alliance Manchester Business School, The University of
Manchester. His current research interests include spirituality, social network analysis,
internationalization, and emerging markets. His work has been published in International
Marketing Review, European Management Journal and as chapter contributions. Email:
Noemi Sinkovics (PhD, University of Manchester) is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in
International Business and Management at Alliance Manchester Business School, U.K and
Visiting Scholar at Fox School of Business, Temple University. Her research focuses on
International Entrepreneurship, ICT, and Economic Development issues. She has published in
journals such as International Business Review, International Marketing Review, Journal of
Business Research, Critical Perspectives on International Business, and European Journal of
International Management. Email:
Rudolf R. Sinkovics (PhD, WU Vienna), is Professor of International Business at The
University of Manchester, UK, Visiting Professor at Lappeenranta University of Technology,
Finland and Visiting Scholar at Fox School of Business, Temple University. He has published on
inter-organizational governance, the role of ICT in firm internationalization, and currently works
on rising powers, and responsible business. Email:
Page 1 of 43
The effect of matching on perceived export barriers and
performance in an era of globalization discontents:
Empirical evidence from UK SMEs
In this study we examine the effect of matching, a comprehensive networking concept, on
the perceived export barriers and export performance of small exporting firms. We introduce
matching as a moderating variable affecting the link of perceived internal/external export barriers
to export performance. Using a sample of 106 UK-based exporting small and medium enterprises
(SMEs), we find that matching alleviates the negative impact of perceived internal export barriers
on export performance. Furthermore, the empirical results show that export experience and
export commitment reduce managers' perceived internal and external export barriers. The study
shows that matching, as a networking-tool at multiple levels, can help to overcome export
barriers, thus providing a mechanism to offset challenges opened up through nationalistic
Keywords: Matching; export barriers; export commitment; export performance; SMEs; anti-
1 Introduction
Faced with compound uncertainties in an era of rising nationalistic and protectionist
policies and backlashes against globalization (e.g. Brexit in the UK and Trump’s ‘America first’
approach to governance in the US), firms, particularly in their cross-border operations, are
prompted to learn about and develop managerial strategies of navigating economic nationalism.
Exporting firms have long enjoyed the incentives of the globalization era, accompanied by trade
deals, international organizations, economic integration, and close relationships between
countries, all of which have significantly facilitated the flow of goods, services, and capital across
borders. The vibrant export activities across countries have significantly fostered welfare
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creation, socio-economic development, and job creation. However, the recent protectionist
sentiments, encapsulated in ‘anti-globalism
’ or ‘globalization discontents’ (Stiglitz, 2018), point
at structural changes, and uncertainties in the international political-economic environment, that
are likely to have serious effects on personal and organizational connectivity with partners (Cano-
Kollmann, Hannigan, & Mudambi, 2017). Institutional change, which was once a driver of
globalization in the shape of pro-market reforms, has reversed, with governments imposing
protectionist measures and weakening institutions such as the World Trade Organization
(Cuervo-Cazurrra, Mudambi, & Pedersen, 2017; Kobrin, 2017). Barrier-free relationships
between countries and societies are likely to diminish (Helleiner & Pickel, 2005) and in order to
offset these, firms will have to move towards the development of relationships at multiple levels
with different actors.
Network-based relationships are considered to be an effective way of navigating through
uncertainties inherent in international operations, particularly during institutional transition
periods (Meyer, 2001; Peng & Zhou, 2005; Zhou, Wei-ping, & Xueming, 2007). Hence, we
examine the matching concept, introduced by Ghauri and Holstius (1996) to refer to a multitude
of networking activities that firms conduct in order to interact with different actors at various
levels, including customers, suppliers, local government, and trade unions, in developing cross-
border relationships (Elg, 2008; Elg, Ghauri, & Tarnovskaya, 2008; Ghauri & Holstius, 1996).
Compared with traditional networking relationships, which mainly focus on micro business
relationships or on just one level of network relationships, matching extends to networks at the
micro and macro levels. Our argument is that the simultaneous management of multiple levels of
network relationships will support contemporary firms in overcoming internationalization
barriers and foster export performance, specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises
(SMEs) in an era of globalization discontents.
This paper develops a conceptual model in which matching is hypothesized as a
moderating variable, i.e. shapes the relationship between perceived internal and external export
barriers and export performance. Exporting experience, export commitment, and perceived export
Globalism refers to “the idea that, through a series of mechanisms, the world has become more closely
interconnected, and by implication that it will continue to become more closely interconnected” (Dickson, 2013).
It sees the world as characterized by networks of connections that span multi-continental distances (Keohane &
Nye, 2000; Nye, 2002). In contrast, globalization refers to the increase or decline in the degree of globalism and
focuses on the forces and dynamism of these changes (Nye, 2002).
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barriers are introduced as independent variables and export performance as the dependent. While
there is a plethora of prior work that examines direct impacts on export performance, the role of
moderators is regarded to be underrepresented (Rose & Shoham, 2002; Sousa, Martínez-López,
& Coelho, 2008). A study by Sousa et al. (2008, p. 366), providing a comprehensive review of
the export performance literature, also suggests that “future studies should focus not solely on the
main effects of independent variables on export performance, but also on whether the relationship
between the independent and dependent variable varies as a function of the value of a third
variable” and deliberately focus on moderating effects.
This paper contributes to the literature as follows. Firstly, it examines the moderating
effect of matching on the relationships between perceived export barriers and export
performance. Whereas most of the previous work is limited to micro-level business networks and
their direct impact on firms’ exporting behaviors, we introduce matching to delineate to what
extent the moderating impact of networking activities at micro and macro levels can alleviate
perceived export barriers and thus foster export performance. Secondly, this paper systematically
integrates perceived internal and external export barriers and investigates their impact on export
performance, whereas previous empirical evidence on that integration has been limited. This
provides a more nuanced understanding of the nature and type of barriers that SMEs encounter.
2 Theoretical background and conceptual framework
2.1 Exporting and network-based SME internationalization
Exporting is seen as a baseline cross-border activity, particularly useful for SMEs, as their
organizational structure, size and management system puts pressure on their ability to devote
resources towards internationalization and connecting with international markets (Chetty &
Blankenburg Holm, 2000; Navarro, Acedo, Robson, Ruzo, & Losada, 2010a; Uner, Kocak,
Cavusgil, & Cavusgil, 2013). It offers a fast, cost-effective, and risk-reducing approach to
internationalization, combined with high flexibility (Golovko & Valentini, 2011; Lu & Beamish,
2006). The benefits associated with exports are not restricted to firms, as countries also gain
significantly from them (Pinho & Martins, 2010). Exporting plays a vital role in promoting socio-
economic development, and contributes to countries’ GDP, economic growth, employment, and
welfare creation (Pinho & Martins, 2010). For instance, it is an important contributor to GDP in
the UK, the EU, and OECD countries. Exports of goods and services as ratios of GDP are 28.1%
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for the UK, 43% for the EU and 28.4% for OECD countries (OECD, 2016). Exporting is also an
important driver of job creation. As indicated in the 2016 European Commission report, one in
seven jobs in the EU was either directly or indirectly supported by exports to the rest of the world
(Rueda-Cantuche & Sousa, 2016). The number of jobs supported by extra-EU exports increased
by around three million between 2000 and 2007 (Sousa, Rueda-Cantouche, Arto, & Andreoni,
2012). These significant contributions and attractive benefits of exporting activities, for firms,
countries, and societies, could be eroded by the onset of an anti-globalization era that is likely to
turn interconnected markets into isolated islands. Hence, deepening our understanding of export
barriers and networking strategies for overcoming them is becoming particularly crucial.
Within the international business (IB) and international entrepreneurship (IE) literatures,
the network model of firm internationalization has received strong interest (Coviello, 2006;
Ghauri, Lutz, & Tesfom, 2003; Kurt & Yamin, 2016; Loane & Bell, 2006; Musteen, Francis, &
Datta, 2010; Zhou et al., 2007). Whereas traditional internationalization theories mostly employ a
firm-centric focus (i.e., Johanson & Vahlne, 1977), its later theorizations have extensively
applied relational approaches and understand internationalization as a dynamic process through
which firms are engaged in a diverse range of network relationships (Ellis, 2000; Johanson &
Vahlne, 2003, 2009; Yamin & Kurt, 2018). A well-established body of the literature on SMEs
and rapidly internationalizing entrepreneurial firms (i.e. born-globals or international new
ventures) has empirically demonstrated the relation between network propensity and firms’
internationalization performance by focusing on firms’ business, social, and also macro-level
political/institutional networks (Cavusgil & Knight, 2015; Coviello, 2006; Kiss & Danis, 2010;
Li & Zhang, 2007; Manolova, Manev, & Gyoshev, 2010; Sharma & Blomstermo, 2003; Zhang,
Ma, Wang, Li, & Huo, 2016; Zhou et al., 2007). The rise and success of rapidly internationalizing
entrepreneurial SMEs has been thought to be facilitated by the contemporary global business
environment and widening multi-country networks comprising different actors (Cavusgil &
Knight, 2015).
Moreover, a stream of research in the IB and IE literatures has focused on macro-level
networks as an important component of non-market strategy in IB activities. This body of
research has mainly focused on the value of political embeddedness, with reference to political
actors and institutions, for organizational performance (Frynas, Mellahi, & Pigman, 2006; Sun,
Mellahi, & Thun, 2010; Sun, Mellahi, & Wright, 2012). From a non-market strategy perspective,
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network ties are seen as boundary-spanning personal and institutional linkages between firm and
government agents, which play a crucial role in determining performance outcomes and IB
success (Doh, Lawton, & Rajwani, 2012; Sun et al., 2012). Being embedded in macro-level
political networks of home and host countries is considered an effective means of capturing non-
market and political resources that create and sustain competitive advantages in cross-border
business activities (Hillman, Keim, & Schuler, 2004; Peng & Luo, 2000). Despite their separate
and narrow focus on either the micro or the macro level of network relationships, one key
overarching argument of these research streams has been that networks are one fundamental
determinant of firms’ success or failure in IB activities, particularly in the contexts of small and
entrepreneurial firms.
However, existing research on the networks of small and entrepreneurial firms has been
unable to grasp a holistic picture of the network dynamics, as it has mostly adopted a micro
perspective, with an extensive focus on inter-firm and business-level relationships. Scholars have
also highlighted that this body of research has underemphasized the importance of network
relationships with socio-political and non-business actors in non-market environments (Elg et al.,
2008; Hadjikhani & Ghauri, 2001; Hadjikhani, Lee, & Ghauri, 2008). Furthermore, previous
studies have investigated different types of networking activities (social, business, and macro-
level networks) separately and neglected firms’ simultaneous composition of different levels of
network relationships with multiple actors. Yet, entering a foreign market requires the
consideration of a broad range of external stakeholders, beyond firm-level relationships (Mark &
Quinn, 2005). Firms need to interact with different actors to gain the knowledge necessary to
respond to required market adaptations, and also to gain support and approval in the host country
(Elg et al., 2008). Accordingly, the network approaches in this body of research need to be
elevated to a broader and more comprehensive level that deals with different levels of networking
activities with actors in both market and non-market environments, in order to develop a more
holistic and nuanced understanding of the potential role of networks in firm internationalization.
Building on the export marketing and network-based internationalization literature, we
propose a conceptual model in which export barriers, export commitment, and exporting
experience relate directly with export performance. Specifically, we argue that the exporting
experience and commitment of entrepreneurs exhibit positive effects on export performance. This
is in line with a vast body of previous literature (Bloemer, Pluymaekers, & Odekerken, 2013;
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Cavusgil & Zou, 1994; Dean, Mengüç, & Myers, 2000; Navarro, Losada, Ruzo, & Díez, 2010b;
Zou & Stan, 1998). The model also hypothesizes that export commitment and exporting
experience reduce managers’ perceived barriers to exporting. More importantly, we extend the
rather solid understanding of the link between perceived export barriers and export performance
by introducing firms’ micro and macro levels of matching activities, which are suggested to
moderate the relationship between perceived internal/external export barriers and export
performance. The following sections provide the development of the hypothesized relationships.
2.2 Export performance
Export performance, which has been one of the central constructs in the export marketing
literature, is defined as the extent to which a firm can accomplish strategic and economic
objectives with respect to exporting to a foreign market (Cavusgil & Zou, 1994; Shoham, 1998).
It has been considered a key indicator for managers to use to make decisions regarding
international operations, since it fosters growth and ensures company survival in the long term
(Madsen, 1998; Navarro et al., 2010b; Sousa et al., 2008). Previous research has focused
extensively on the determinants of export performance, such as management’s perceptions and
willingness to take risks, managerial characteristics, and firm competencies, to name a few (see
Aaby & Slater, 1989 for a comprehensive and integrative review; Cavusgil, 1984; Morgan,
Kaleka, & Katsikeas, 2004; Navarro et al., 2010b; Zou & Stan, 1998 ). However, fewer studies
have connected export barriers to export performance, and the factors that might alleviate those
barriers. Additionally, existing research has mostly investigated the direct impact of independent
factors on export performance and as highlighted by Sousa et al. (2008), only a few researchers
have considered the existence of moderating effects to explain the export performance of the
firm. This current research thus attempts to bridge the gap in the literature by considering both
factors directly affecting export performance, and also introducing matching as a moderating
variable which acts on the relationships between the independent variables and export
performance, as follows.
2.3 Export barriers faced by small and entrepreneurial firms
SMEs and entrepreneurial firms gain from exporting due to scale and scope economies,
increases in market power, the generation of revenues from diversified activities, the spread of
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business risks across different markets, product quality improvements, the use of idle capacity,
and production efficiency improvements, as well as from becoming more attractive to
shareholders and employees (Leonidou, 2004a). However, realizing these benefits has frequently
proved troublesome, due to a number of barriers that impede the exporting process, inhibit
financial gains, provoke negative attitudes towards exporting, or even threaten firm survival
(Leonidou, 1995).
Export barriers can be defined as the structural, attitudinal, operational, and
environmental factors that hinder or discourage firms, particularly SMEs, from initiating,
increasing, or maintaining export activities (Arteaga-Ortiz & Fernández-Ortiz, 2010; Kahiya,
Dean, & Heyl, 2014; Leonidou, 1995). Previous research established a negative link between
perceived export barriers and export performance (Silva & Rocha, 2001; Wilkinson & Brouthers,
2006). The underpinning relationship between managers’ perceived export barriers and export
performance can be understood through the barriers’ impacts on strategic decisions regarding
export activities. Previous studies confirmed that with managers’ perception of barriers
increasing, attitudes towards exporting decrease (Donthu & Kim, 1993; Moini, 1997; Pinho &
Martins, 2010). Wilkinson and Brouthers (2006, p. 235) underlining that “the attitudes exhibited
by managers toward exporting play a significant role in whether or not firms become involved in
exporting and, if they do, their subsequent progress”. Hence, export barriers affect firms’
strategic decisions, which in turn affect export development and performance (Suarez-Ortega,
2003). Silverman, Sengupta, and Castaldi (2004) also found a negative relationship between
export barriers and export performance, in their research examining the US wine industry (see
also Javalgi, Griffith, & White, 2003; McNaughton, 2003).
Export barriers are mainly classified as internal or external barriers (Cavusgil & Zou,
1994; Leonidou, 2004a; Tesfom & Lutz, 2006). Cavusgil and Zou (1994) argue that exporting
should be seen as a firm’s strategic response to internal and external forces. The literature shows
that both internal and external barriers have a significant impact on firms’ exporting performance
(Cavusgil & Zou, 1994; Katsikeas & Morgan, 1994; Leonidou, 2004a).
Internal barriers are intrinsic to the firm and mostly associated with the firm’s insufficient
organizational resources and capabilities such as market information, international experience,
capital, and competent personal, to name a few, required for export activities (Tesfom & Lutz,
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2006). They are mostly related to the ‘intrinsic’ characteristics of the SMEs and entrepreneurial
firms; as a consequence of the very nature of their smaller size (Zhou et al., 2007). Leonidou
(2004) classified internal barriers as functional, information and marketing barriers. Internal
barriers, such as limited market information, lack of experience and a lack of managerial support,
could hinder a firm’s exporting capabilities regarding identification and exploitation of
opportunities in a particular foreign market and hence export performance. Lack of organizational
capability (i.e. marketing knowledge, financial and human resources) in executing marketing
strategy in foreign markets has also been identified as one of the key internal barriers hindering
export performance (Katsikeas & Morgan, 1994). In addition, barriers such as a lack of proper
control over foreign distributors can pose a threat of the distributors exhibiting opportunistic
behaviors, and thus hampering the firm’s exporting performance. Accordingly, we put our
hypothesis as follows;
H1a: The higher the perceived internal export barriers, the lower is the firms’ export
External barriers stem from the environment in which firms operate, and can emanate
either from the domestic market or the host markets (Morgan, 1997; Tesfom & Lutz, 2006).
Leonidou (2004) classified external barriers as procedural, governmental, task, and
environmental. These barriers usually fall beyond the control of individual firm and are affected
by rapid external changes (ibid). Previous studies identified external barriers as one of the key
antecedents of export performance (Aaby & Slater, 1989; Calantone, Kim, Schmidt, & Cavusgil,
2006; Cavusgil & Zou, 1994; Sousa et al., 2008). A firm perceiving significant external barriers
is likely to have negative attitudes towards exporting which will also be reflected in their export
performance (Dean et al., 2000). In this vein, external barriers such as economic, political, and
cultural risks can curb a firm’s exporting marketing activities and hinder performance outcomes.
For instance, exporting to developing countries, which are generally characterized as more
volatile environments involving unstable political contexts, might discourage firms from
engaging in export activities and thus negatively affect export performance. External barriers can
particularly hinder small exporters’ performance, as they lack resources and capabilities to offset
uncertainties emerging from external environment (Shoham & Albaum, 1995; Tesfom & Lutz,
2006). We follow the extensive previous literature arguing that the external barriers perceived by
managers negatively affect export performance, and specify our hypotheses as follows:
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H1b: The higher the perceived external export barriers, the lower is the firms’ export
2.4 Export commitment
Export commitment has been defined as managers’ willingness to devote adequate
financial, managerial, and human resources to export-related activities (Donthu & Kim, 1993;
Navarro et al., 2010b). Whereas this definition refers to a more attitudinal perspective, Cavusgil
and Zou (1994) applied a behavioral approach, which is also used in this study, and defined it as
the resources a firm currently devotes to exporting activities. Existing research has investigated
the antecedents and outcomes of export commitment (e.g. Navarro et al., 2010a), and also its
relationship with export performance (Navarro et al., 2010a; Zou & Stan, 1998), which is
generally acknowledged to be positive (Cavusgil & Zou, 1994; Dhanaraj & Beamish, 2003;
Navarro et al., 2010b). However, the prior focus has mainly been on the direct impact of export
commitment on export performance, and its indirect impact via other independent determinants
of export performance has not been sufficiently investigated. For instance, managers’
commitment towards exporting activities can change the way and extent to which they perceive
barriers, with more committed and risk-taking managers tending to perceive them less intensely
than less committed, inward-oriented, and risk-averse managers (Leonidou, 2004a). Export
commitment can thus affect export performance both directly and indirectly through managers’
perceptions of export barriers. It is therefore important to reveal the interactions among the
independent factors, in order to develop a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the
determinants of export performance.
Our approach to export commitment is consistent with a number of previous studies
dealing specifically with the influence of managerial characteristics on firms’
internationalization. Export commitment reflects a managerial characteristic relating to the
behavioral disposition of the decision makers with respect to risk taking and the undertaking of
expansion activities (Nummela, Saarenketo, & Puumalainen, 2004; Suarez-Ortega & Alamo-
Vera, 2005). Commitment to export is seen as a critical determinant of export performance
(Cavusgil & Nevin, 1981; Cavusgil & Zou, 1994; Navarro et al., 2010b; Wiedersheim-Paul,
Olson, & Welch, 1978). Committed managers carefully plan strategic decisions and allocate
sufficient resources to exporting activities (Cavusgil & Zou, 1994).
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Export commitment is also capable of alleviating managers’ perceived export barriers and
are thus critical to the success of SMEs’ and entrepreneurs’ exporting endeavors. It can increase
managers’ willingness to achieve international objectives and provide a strategic guideline for
their decision making in foreign markets, which in turn improves the efficiency and effectiveness
of resource allocation, stimulating international sales (Lages & Montgomery, 2004; Navarro et
al., 2010b). The way that managers perceive the internal and external environment can be an
outcome of their strategic orientation when it comes to exporting activities. Leonidou (2004b,
p.284) indicated that “firms whose decision-makers are rather incompetent, risk-averse, and
inward-looking are very likely to perceive export obstacles in a more intense and severe manner
than firms with capable, risk-taking, and foreign-oriented managers”. It is likely that highly
committed managers are more risk taking and foreign-oriented, and hence tend to perceive export
barriers less intensively. This argument is consistent with a number of previous studies dealing
with the role managerial characteristics play in determining the perceptions of export barriers
(Carrier, 1999; Forlani, Parthasarathy, & Keaveney, 2008; Ruzzier, Antoncic, Hisrich, &
Konecnik, 2007). Whilst firms are exposed to a number of factors that stimulate and/or obstruct
export activities, the effects of such factors will depend on the way they are perceived by the
decision maker (Forlani et al., 2008; Wiedersheim-Paul et al., 1978). We argue that the more
committed the management team is to exporting, the less intensely they will perceive the export
barriers to be.
In general, the literature supports the idea that export commitment positively affects
export performance and also that the characteristics of the firm’s decision makers, including their
commitment to exporting, can significantly influence the way the barriers are perceived
(Leonidou, 1995; Navarro et al., 2010b). On this basis we hypothesize:
H2: The higher the managers’ export commitment, the higher is the firm’s export
H3a: The higher the managers’ export commitment, the lower they perceive the internal
export barriers to be.
H3b: The higher the managers’ export commitment, the lower they perceive the external
export barriers to be.
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2.5 Export experience
The literature also suggests export experience as one of the key determinants of export
performance (Love, Roper, & Zhou, 2016; Sousa et al., 2008). The extant literature on SMEs has
identified a plethora of barriers leading to uncertainties and potentially inhibiting exporting
(Altıntaş, Tokol, & Harcar, 2007; Silva & Rocha, 2001; Tesfom & Lutz, 2006). On the other
hand, export experience has been considered a key factor in reducing these uncertainties related
to exporting. Katsikeas, Piercy, and Ioannidis (1996, p.14) indicated that “with increasing
exporting experience, firms are likely to perceive less uncertainty in their exporting activities”.
The theoretical explanation for the relationship between export experience and performance lies
mainly in the notions of uncertainty and learning (Forsgren, 2002; Katsikeas et al., 1996). The
decision to export is characterized by a considerable amount of uncertainty stemming from a lack
of foreign market knowledge, which can be acquired through experience gained from a firm’s
cross-border activities (Forsgren, 2002; Katsikeas & Morgan, 1994; Sousa et al., 2008). More
experienced exporters are likely to perceive less uncertainty and fewer barriers in their exporting
activities, and demonstrate a higher propensity to export (Forsgren, 2002; Leonidou & Katsikeas,
1996). Learning through export experience can also help firms to develop capabilities, enabling
them to better understand foreign markets and design effective exporting strategies leading to
higher export performance outcomes (Forsgren, 2002; Johanson & Vahlne, 2009; Katsikeas et al.,
Existing research indicates that export experience significantly affects firms’ capacity and
ability to make adequate use of information when facing threats and opportunities in foreign
markets (Cavusgil & Zou, 1994; Julien & Ramangalahy, 2003). Previous studies have found a
positive relationship between export experience and export performance (Dean et al., 2000;
Navarro et al., 2010a; Shaoming Zou & Cavusgil, 2002; Zou & Stan, 1998). Moreover, it has
been empirically proven that export experience reduces uncertainty and the export barriers
perceived by managers (Katsikeas & Morgan, 1994; Leonidou, 2000; Shoham & Albaum, 1995).
For instance, Leonidou (2000) found that the less export experience a firm has, the more acutely
export barriers are perceived. Accordingly, we also suggest that a higher level of export
experience leads to lower perceived export barriers and higher export performance:
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H4: The greater the managers’ export experience, the higher is the firm’s export
H5a: The greater the managers’ export experience, the lower they perceive the internal
export barriers to be.
H5b: The greater the managers’ export experience, the lower they perceive the external
export barriers to be.
2.6 The moderating role of matching
Matching is the central construct of this research, as a moderator of the relationships
between perceived export barriers and export performance. It is defined as consisting of all the
measures taken at the global, macro, and micro levels to facilitate the development of cross-
border business relationships (Ghauri & Holstius, 1996). Matching activities are considered an
essential ingredient of a successful market entry, since firms need to interact with a number of
different actors on different levels of activity to gain approval, understand adaptations, and gain
acceptance (Elg et al., 2008). Matching involves firms’ own relationships with different actors
such as governments, unions, and suppliers. Matching between governments at a macro level can
also provide support and approval for firms’ cross-border activities (Elg et al., 2008). Whereas
the traditional network approach deals with relationships between business actors, matching, as a
more comprehensive concept, helps us to understand how a firm’s business position can be
strengthened by support from both business and non-business actors (Elg et al., 2008; Ghauri &
Holstius, 1996). In our particular context, matching is seen as a multi-level networking tool,
which is helpful in alleviating some of the contemporary pressures that arise due to globalization
Matching includes three levels of activities. Global networks primarily refer to
international institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO. In this study, the focus
is on the macro and micro levels of matching. The macro level of matching refers to the level of
support provided by host and home governments for business activities, through measures taken
bilaterally by governments and other social actors to facilitate entry (Elg et al., 2008; Ghauri &
Holstius, 1996; Leelapanyalert & Ghauri, 2006). The macro level of matching extends the
interactions between business actors to non-business actors such as governments and other social
actors involved in export markets. It has been demonstrated that small and entrepreneurial firms
can conduct their international marketing activities more successfully, and thus enhance their
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export performance, through host and local government support and by building relationships
with local actors (Babakus, Yavas, & Haahti, 2006; Ghauri et al., 2003; Johanson & Vahlne,
1990). Recent studies also provide empirical evidence suggesting that international
entrepreneurs’ institutional capital, which refers to support and linkages with home-country
government programs, can be a valuable resource driving firms’ international performance (Lu,
Zhou, Bruton, & Li, 2010). Matching at global and macro levels creates preconditions for
company-level cooperation and micro-level matching activities (Ghauri & Holstius, 1996). The
micro level of matching is closely related to networking with competitors, customers, and other
actors, for the realization of a successful market entry (Ghauri & Holstius, 1996; Leelapanyalert
& Ghauri, 2006). This level of matching is similar to the business network approach
(Leelapanyalert & Ghauri, 2006), which in the context of increasing globalization discontents and
uncertainties about future trading relationships, is pertinent as a strategic risk reduction
networking tool.
The key assumption of the network approach is that firms require resources controlled by
other firms, which can be acquired through network relationships (Chetty & Blankenburg Holm,
2000; Zhou et al., 2007). Piercy, Kaleka, and Katsikeas (1998) asserted that underpinning
superior export performance is a firm’s ability to manage a complex network of relationships.
The benefits that accrue to a firm from its networking activities are widely cited in the literature.
Networks can provide a firm with access to resources and opportunities (Chetty & Blankenburg
Holm, 2000), increase synergistic effects (Elg & Johansson, 1996), enhance competitive
advantage (Welch, Welch, Young, & Wilkinson, 1998), and overcome constraints, especially
those stemming from a comparatively small firm size (Donckels & Lambrecht, 1997; Loane &
Bell, 2006; Zhou et al., 2007). Additionally, Ghauri et al. (2003) argued that networks are often
used to alleviate internal and/or external export barriers. Accessing external resources through
network relationships can help SMEs to overcome internationalization and export barriers,
particularly those stemming from a lack of resources and experience and the liability of smallness
(Chetty & Wilson, 2003; Demick & O'Reilly, 2000; Welch et al., 1998). More specifically, it has
been suggested that networks (with customers, suppliers, other companies, and authorities in both
the domestic and foreign market) enable firms, particularly small and entrepreneurial firms, to
minimize or even overcome their size disadvantages, as these networks enable them to exchange
valuable information, leverage the skills and resources of others, access opportunities, and
Page 14 of 43
generally benefit from the positive synergistic effects of such networks (Chetty & Wilson, 2003;
Holm, Eriksson, & Johanson, 1999; Loane & Bell, 2006; Ojala, 2009). However, little of the
earlier work on the business network approach paid attention to the political relationships of
firms, or to the influence of actors (i.e. political and social actors) from the non-market
environment on firms’ cross-border activities (Hadjikhani & Ghauri, 2001). Matching activities
can enable firms to exploit a broader range of market and non-market resources through
relationships with multiple businesses and political and social actors. These different levels of
business activities, with actors from both market and non-market environments, can help
exporting SMEs to overcome perceived internal/external export barriers by acquiring
information, resources, support, and approval from multiple stakeholders and mitigate against
unfavorable macro-level political trading relationships.
The above evidence supports the notion that matching reduces perceived internal and
external barriers, which can in turn weaken their negative effects on export performance.
Fundamentally, these moderating effects occur because the ‘quality’ of export-related decision
making is likely to improve, partly as a result of better and more reliable information generated
through matching and networking, and partly because the impact of constraints on decision
making (such as risks stemming from opportunistic behavior engaged in by counterparts) are
alleviated (Ghauri et al., 2003). More specifically, matching could help management to overcome
the barriers associated with the disadvantages of their firms’ size and their isolation from foreign
markets, specifically in an environment that exhibits increasingly negative views about
globalization and trade-relationships with foreign partners (Barnett, 2017). Informational barriers
could be reduced with increased knowledge of the foreign market gained through a firm’s
linkages with already-established suppliers, while problems of product reconfigurations and
adaptation of marketing procedures, as well as socio-cultural differences, could be resolved
through firms’ connections with business and non-business actors in the foreign market. The
macro-level matching could help the management to reduce the impact of governmental and
environmental barriers on export performance (Ghauri et al., 2003) as well as uncertain trading
relationships (Welfens, 2017). We therefore argue that networking with customers, competitors,
governments, and other relevant stakeholders could reduce the unfamiliarity and uncertainty an
exporter faces when attempting to access a foreign market, and enable it to adapt promptly and
effectively to the new situation. Moreover, through local or host government support, the
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management of SMEs and entrepreneurial exporters could minimize their uncertainty regarding
the different rules and regulations that might have to be overcome, while at the same time
increasing their awareness and chance of utilizing any available government assistance, for their
own benefit (Ghauri et al., 2003). Accordingly, we put our hypotheses as follows:
H6: The higher the level of matching, the higher is the firm’s export performance.
H7a: The higher the level of matching, the weaker is the negative influence of internal
export barriers on export performance.
H7b: The higher the level of matching, the weaker is the negative influence of external
export barriers on export performance.
Figure 1 illustrates all the hypothesized relationships among export commitment, export
experience, export barriers, export performance, and matching.
Insert Figure 1 around here
3 Methodology
3.1 Sample
A list of firms was generated from the population of firms covered in the Department of
Trade and Industry (DTI) UK database. Firms included in the list had to meet the two criteria of
being SMEs, according to the EU definition based on firm size (fewer than 250 employees), and
of being based in the North West of England. Some specific government initiatives had been
taken by the North West Development Agency (NWDA) in this specific area, and we aimed to
explore the managerial relevance and impact of these initiatives. The criteria yielded 900 firms
across all manufacturing industries. We mainly focused on the manufacturing business and did
not include intermediate trade organizations, trading agents, or service firms, as it would have
been difficult to accurately specify the value of the goods traded. A questionnaire was sent to
each firm with the support and endorsement of the NWDA. The respondents were those deemed
most knowledgeable about the firms’ exporting business, such as marketing managers and senior
managers. Support and engagement from the NWDA was vital as we drew on elements of
Dillon’s ‘Tailored Design Method’ (Dillman, Smyth, & Leah, 2014) and aimed to meet
Page 16 of 43
requirements regarding ‘social exchange’ (Dillman et al., 2014; Emerson, 1962) to improve
industry cooperation and response rates. Multiple contacts by phone and email were employed,
replacement questionnaires were sent out, and industry reports were offered.
3.2 Data collection and assessment of common method bias
A total of 900 questionnaires were distributed to the firms identified in the North West of
England. Having employed the aforementioned social exchange procedures and multiple
contacts, 106 usable responses were obtained, a response rate of about 11.7%. This reflects a
good representation of the population, considering the difficulties encountered in survey projects
these days, and also the decline in response rates reported in organizational and IB research
journals (Chidlow, Ghauri, Yeniyurt, & Cavusgil, 2015; Rogelberg & Stanton, 2007). Following
the recommendation of Baruch and Holtom (2008), we assessed non-response bias by classifying
the responses into two groups, early responses and late responses (Armstrong & Overton, 1977;
Rogelberg & Stanton, 2007). Furthermore, independent t-tests on demographic variables such as
revenue and employee numbers were performed. No significant differences emerged. We ran
additional t-tests between these two groups, on key variables in the proposed conceptual model,
such as export barriers. Again, no significant difference emerged, hence non-response bias was
deemed not to present a problem in our dataset (Armstrong & Overton, 1977; Rogelberg &
Stanton, 2007).
As our data were collected based on self-reports, there existed the potential for the
occurrence of common method bias. Following the recommendation of Podsakoff and Organ
(1986), we conducted a Harman one-factor test and found that no dominant factor emerged (the
first factor explains only 13% of the total variance). This result confirmed that common method
bias would not be a major threat to our subsequent hypothesis testing.
3.3 Measurement
The questionnaire was developed with reflective measurement scales, and the items for
each construct were taken from established and validated scales. The first part of the
questionnaire focused on managers’ perceptions of barriers. The second part concentrated on the
export commitment, matching, and export performance evaluations of the respondents. The
operationalization of each construct was as follows:
Page 17 of 43
Export barriers: For the first part of the questionnaire, the entrepreneurial firms’
managers were asked to rate to what extent they felt each barrier, as identified by Leonidou
(2004a), posed a challenge to their firm’s exporting activities. Response levels were anchored on
a seven-point Likert scale ranging from “very much” (7) to “not at all” (1). A total of 16
internal/external export barriers were listed. The internal barriers construct included “functional”
barriers (such as lack of managerial time to deal with exports, inadequate/untrained personnel for
exporting, shortage of working capital to finance exports), “informational barriers” (such as lack
of information about international markets and foreign business opportunities etc.), and
“product”, “logistics”, and “distribution” barriers (such as unavailability of warehousing facilities
abroad, difficulty of supplying inventory abroad, and difficulty of developing new products for
foreign markets). The external barriers construct included “socio-cultural” barriers (different
socio-cultural traits etc.), “procedural” barriers (unfamiliar exporting procedures/documentation
and unfavorable home rules and regulations), “task” barriers (such as unfamiliar foreign business
practices), and “economic” and “political-legal” barriers (such as foreign currency exchange
risks, strict foreign rules and regulations, slow collection of payments from abroad, and high-
tariff and non-tariff barriers).
Export commitment: We assessed the level of export commitment using subjective
measures dealing with managers’ behaviors towards exporting. Two items, “we commit
significant resources to the export venture” and “management demonstrates strong commitment
to the export venture”, were adapted from Cavusgil and Zou (1994), and the respondents were
asked to evaluate them on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from “strongly disagree” (1) to
“strongly agree” (7). We operationalized export experience as a single-item scale using the
number of years a firm had engaged in exporting activities (Cadogan, Adamantios, & Siguaw,
2002; Katsikeas et al., 1996; Navarro et al., 2010a).
Matching: The matching construct, which was introduced by Ghauri and Holstius (1996)
in a qualitative manner, required operational definition. We operationalized matching as a
second-order construct with two sub-constructs: micro- and macro-level matching activities.
Whereas micro-level matching activities refer to networking activities with other business-level
actors (i.e. firms, suppliers, and customers), macro-level matching deals with the existence of
bilateral agreements between governments, and networking activities with non-business actors
(i.e. local governments and consultants), mainly in the dominant export markets. We first
Page 18 of 43
developed a new item pool, incorporating items relating to micro- and macro-level networking
activities. The generation of the items followed recommendations from the scale development
literature (Churchill, 1979; Fowler, 1995). They were developed in a joint session by three
academic experts, all familiar with the matching concept and the domain of the construct. A total
of nine items were produced based on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from “strongly
disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (7).
Export performance: In the study, export performance is assessed using subjective
measures in terms of the respondents’ satisfaction with the firms’ export performance, with a
combination of five items that include economic, profit-related, and non-economic measures
(Katsikeas, Leonidou, & Morgan, 2000; Sinkovics, Sinkovics, & Jean, 2013). Previous research
has indicated that export performance must include managerial satisfaction, which provides a
benchmark of organizational expectations and affects the selection of future strategies (Navarro
et al., 2010b; Shoham, 1998). Respondents were asked to indicate their degree of satisfaction
with their export performance on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from “not at all satisfied” (1)
to “very satisfied” (7). The items used for measuring export performance were taken from
Katsikeas et al. (2000). Additionally, we chose to measure export performance using subjective
measures only, in order to avoid biases stemming from the different industry- or market-specific
factors and to enable comparison among the responses. Moreover, small export firms are often
reluctant to disclose confidential information regarding their financial condition, while it has also
been suggested that financial data published for SMEs are very often manipulated either to
appear financially strong to the interested parties (shareholders, banks etc.) or to reduce the firm’s
tax obligations (Brigham & Ehrhardt, 2002). Finally, firm size was included as a control variable
so that we could assess the effect of exporting SMEs’ scale on their export performance. Firm
size was operationalized as the total sales of the company. Table 1 presents the measurement
Insert Table 1 around here
Page 19 of 43
3.4 Results
3.4.1 Descriptive statistics
The descriptive statistics of the sample firms are presented in Table 2. The engineering
sector was most widely represented in the sample, with 31.10%, followed by firms in the textile
(10.40%), chemicals (4.70%), automotive (3.80%), and furnishing (2.80%) industries. Despite a
strong bias towards the engineering sector, the generalizability of the sample to the population of
firms in the North West region of England is not considered a problem. However, the data will
most probably lack generalizability to the UK context overall. The results demonstrate that 59.3%
of the firms are younger than 25 years old. All firms have less than 250 employees, while 73.7%
percent of them have less than 50 full-time employees. The descriptive data also show that 71.8%
percent of the sample firms have less than 20 years of export experience, while more than 50%
have less than 10 years. Overall, our sample reflects small and young entrepreneurial firms, most
having limited export experience.
Insert Table 2 around here
3.4.2 PLS analysis
We applied PLS-SEM to our data, using the SmartPLS 3 software (Ringle, Wende, &
Becker, 2015). The following features made PLS-SEM the most appropriate data analysis
technique for this research. Firstly, PLS-SEM is one of the most appropriate techniques for
examining exploratory/predictive research models where the objective is to explain variance
(Henseler, Ringle, & Sinkovics, 2009; Richter, Sinkovics, Ringle, & Schlägel, 2016). To the best
of our knowledge, this is the first study to introduce the matching construct into a conceptual
model and test it using quantitative data. We aim to explore previously untested relationships
between matching, export barriers, export commitment, and export performance using a ‘soft-
modeling’ approach (Wold, 1980). Hence, given its exploratory and theory-building nature, PLS-
SEM is the most appropriate method for this research. Secondly, we developed a complex model
in terms of both the number of relationships and also the inclusion of both direct and moderated
effects between constructs, for which PLS offers robust solutions (Hair, Hult, Ringle, & Sarstedt,
Page 20 of 43
2017; Kurt, Yamin, Sinkovics, & Sinkovics, 2016). Finally, with PLS-SEM, the sample size must
meet only minimal requirements in order for robust statistical power to be gained (Hair, Sarstedt,
Pieper, & Ringle, 2012; Henseler et al., 2009; Lohmöller, 1989). We have a moderate sample size
(n=106), but it is sufficient under the ‘ten times’ rule, which makes PLS-SEM a robust analysis
technique for our research (Barclay, Higgins, & Thompson, 1995; Reinartz, Haenlein, &
Henseler, 2009; Richter et al., 2016). We used a two-stage hierarchical component model (HCM)
analysis for the operationalization of the higher-order construct-matching (Hair et al., 2017). We
first ran the first-order measurement model in order to obtain latent variable scores for the lower-
order components, which became the observed indicators of the matching construct in the higher-
order component measurement model (Becker, Klein, & Wetzels, 2012). This enabled us to
estimate a more parsimonious model in the higher-level analysis. We also applied PLS Mode A
as reflective measurements are usually associated with Mode A (Hair et al., 2017).
3.4.3 Assessment of the measurement model
We assessed the measurement model with reflective indicators by evaluating reliability
and validity. We examined internal reliability using composite reliability (CR). Hair et al. (2017)
indicated that PLS does not require all indicators to have equal reliability (as Cronbach’s alpha
does), which makes CR a more appropriate measure of reliability for the PLS-SEM method. The
CR scores were all above 0.8, ranging from 0.809 to 0.958, which suggests that the composite
measurement items have sufficient reliability (Hair et al., 2017). We also assessed the reliability
of each latent variable. Most of the variables explained a substantial part of each indicator’s
variance, and the correlations between the constructs and each of their manifest variables were at
least 0.50. We followed the minimum cut-off criterion of 0.5 for the indicator’s outer loadings
(Anderson & Gerbing, 1988; Hair, Ringle, & Sarstedt, 2011). The absolute standardized first-
order outer loadings ranged from 0.624 to 0.944, with most items exceeding the value of 0.7. One
item related to the matching construct was slightly below that threshold, at 0.437, but for reasons
of internal consistency was retained in the construct scale (see Table 1). A total of eight reflective
indicators (five items from export barriers and three items from matching) with very low outer
loadings (below 0.40) were dropped from the respective constructs (Bagozzi, Yi, & Phillips,
1991; Hair et al., 2017).
Page 21 of 43
To assess the validity of the constructs, we examined convergent and discriminant
validity. Convergent validity signifies that the set of indicators represents one and the same
underlying construct, and this was assessed following Fornell and Larcker (1981), who suggest
that an average variance extracted (AVE) of at least 0.5 indicates sufficient convergent validity.
All constructs showed AVE values greater than the 0.5 threshold, ranging from 0.510 to 0.884,
confirming convergent validity (Fornell & Larcker, 1981). We assessed discriminant validity
using the Fornell-Larcker and heterotrait-monotrait (HTMT) criteria. The Fornell-Larcker
criterion postulates that a latent variable shares more variance with its assigned indicators than
with any other latent variable (Fornell & Larcker, 1981). As shown in Table 3, since the AVE of
each latent variable is greater than the latent variable’s highest squared correlation with any other
latent variable, discriminant validity is also established. The HTMT ratios of the correlations are
part of a new criterion developed by Henseler, Ringle, and Sarstedt (2014) to assess discriminant
validity. The HTMT results presented in Table 3 are all below the threshold of 0.90, which again
confirms discriminant validity (Hair et al., 2017; Henseler et al., 2014).
Insert Table 3 around here
3.4.4 Structural model results and hypothesis testing
We now proceed with the structural model assessment given the reliable and valid
measurement model estimation. The coefficient of determination (R
) of the endogenous latent
variables is a vital element of evaluating the predictive power of the structural model. Chin
(1998) describes R
values of 0.67, 0.33, and 0.19 in PLS path models as substantial, moderate,
and weak, respectively. The R
value of export performance is 0.453, indicating the model has a
moderate level of predictive power (Chin, 1998; Cohen, 1988; Ringle, Sarstedt, & Straub, 2012).
We assessed the effect size (f
, the change in R
) in order to examine the impact of an
independent latent variable on a dependent latent variable (Chin, 2010; Hair et al., 2017). f
values of 0.02, 0.15, and 0.35 are considered small, medium, and large effect sizes (Chin, 2010;
Cohen, 1988). The effect sizes of internal barriers, external barriers, export commitment, export
experience, and matching on export performance are 0.076, 0.018, 0.197, 0.252, and 0.097,
respectively. The results demonstrate medium effect sizes from export commitment and export
Page 22 of 43
experience to export performance, and small effect sizes from internal barriers, external barriers,
and matching to export performance.
We used the bootstrapping technique to test the hypotheses and assess the path
coefficients’ significance (Hair et al., 2017; Henseler et al., 2009). We ran a 5000 times
resampling method of the 106 observations. The path coefficients from internal barriers and
external barriers to export performance are -0.324 (t= 2.378, p< 0.05) and 0.140 (t= 1.222, n.s.)
respectively, which support only H1a. The path coefficient from export commitment to export
performance is 0.333 (t= 3.449, p<0.01) and those to internal barriers and external barriers are -
0.369 (t= 4.116, p<0.001) and -0.300 (t= 2.976, p<0.01) respectively, which support H2, H3a,
and H3b. The path coefficient from export experience to export performance is 0.146 (t= 2.205,
p<0.05) and those to internal barriers and external barriers are -0.417 (t= 5.752, p<0.01) and -
0.256 (t= 3.038, p<0.01) respectively, which support H4, H5a, and H5b. The path coefficient
from matching to export performance is 0.251 (t= 2.231, p<0.05), which supports H6. The results
also indicate that matching only significantly moderates the relationship between internal barriers
and export performance (β= -0.308, t= 2.371, p<0.05), which confirms H7a. When we controlled
for firm size, we found a significant effect (β= 0.099) on the performance dimension at a 0.05
level of significance. The results of the hypothesis testing are presented in Table 4 and Figure 2
Insert Table 4 and Figure 2 around here
The results presented in Table 4 and Figure 2 indicate that, out of the moderating
relationships, only the moderating effect of matching in connection with internal barriers turns
out to significantly alleviate the negative impact of internal barriers on export performance.
Moreover, there are significant contributions made by export experience and export commitment
in terms of alleviating both the internal and external export barriers perceived by managers.
Matching, export experience, and export commitment also directly and significantly contribute to
export performance. The findings also reveal that the perceived internal barriers are considered
the main impediments to exporting activities in the context of SMEs, whereas external barriers
Page 23 of 43
have no significant impact on export performance. Finally, we found the size of the firm to have a
positive yet small impact on its exporting performance.
4 Discussion
Globalization has been driving the IB research field over the past three decades (Meyer,
2017). As highlighted by Buckley (2002), it has been one of the three key research areas
successfully tackled in the IB field. Furthermore, Buckley and Ghauri (2004) highlighted
globalization as one of the next big questions of IB research. However, in the aftermath of the
recent global recession in 2008, globalization is shifting into a different phase, characterized by
popular globalization discontents (Stiglitz, 2018) and a gradual increase in protective measures
taken by national governments (Bremmer, 2014; Kobrin, 2017; Meyer, 2017). While
globalization has benefited the vast majority of the world’s population, there have also been
losers, mainly the middle class and low-skilled populations in the advanced economies, whose
living standards have fallen in both real and nominal terms as a result of a redistribution/transfer
of low-knowledge activities to lower-cost locations/emerging markets (Cano-Kollmann et al.,
2017; Cuervo-Cazurrra et al., 2017; Rodrik, 2018; Stiglitz, 2018). This discontent experienced by
large (middle-class and lower-class) segments of the populations in the global north has fueled
nationalist and protectionist movements that have given rise to populist narratives and facilitated
the implementation of anti-globalist policies (Cano-Kollmann et al., 2017; Stiglitz, 2018).
Similarly, recent studies have highlighted a continuous increase of policy measures and
regulations creating less welcoming investment climates and more barriers to cross-border
activities, also confirmed by the recent UNCTAD and WTO figures (Kaspar, 2017; Sauvant,
2013; UNCTAD, 2016; WTO, 2016).
Technological advances and institutional changes have been accepted as two main pillars
of globalization (Cuervo-Cazurrra et al., 2017). Whereas technological advances such as
transportation and electronic communications are likely to progress, institutional changes have
started to reverse, moving from pro-globalization back to anti-globalization (ibid). Although
policy reversals towards protectionist sentiments are likely to hamper the cross-border activities
of both large and small firms, MNEs have sufficient resources to “implement technological
workarounds to circumvent anti-globalization policies as well as to lobby successfully against
policies that harm their specific interest” (Cano-Kollmann et al., 2017, p.4). Therefore, protective
Page 24 of 43
nation-centered policies will be particularly deleterious to SMEs and international new ventures,
which are active players in export markets (ibid). Hence, managers of these small firms are now
challenged to make more careful decisions and find strategies to manage the risks associated with
the shift towards a less interconnected global landscape accompanied by increasing skepticism
towards free trade.
Not only managers but also IB scholars need to address these vibrant changes and develop
a more nuanced understanding of the new developments, structural changes, and uncertainties in
the global landscape (Delios, 2017). The influence of these trends on both organizations and
societies can be better understood through focusing on specific contexts in which anti-
globalization movements are becoming prominent (i.e. Brexit in the UK, Trump in the US, and
populist voices in the EU) (Barnett, 2017; Welfens, 2017). In order to be able to provide a
strategic roadmap for organizations as to how they might navigate through these uncertainties and
ambiguities, light needs to be shed on effective mechanisms that firms, particularly SMEs, can
use to reduce the negative impact of potential impediments to trade and economic integration
arising from the current uncertainties. We put forward that matching activities with business and
particularly non-business actors (i.e. governments) can help SMEs significantly in overcoming
export barriers and facilitate their exporting ambitions. Moving forward from a period where
globalization was the dominant mantra towards trading relationships that are likely increasing in
complexity, export barriers and uncertainties, this research has focused on a contemporary
context. A consensus exists that Brexit will unleash fundamental changes in the British business
environment, which will in turn alter the dynamics of relationships with the rest of the world and
thus lead to massive uncertainty in the markets in the UK and around the world (Cumming &
Zahra, 2016). Hence, the matching concept may offer strategic guidance for exporting SMEs to
ensure their exporting activities survive in an era where markets are becoming more isolated and
protected by governments.
Our paper contributes to the IB and IE literatures. Globalization, and the networks created
as its by-product, have been considered an effective mechanism facilitating entrepreneurship
(Prashantham, Eranova, & Couper, 2017). Entrepreneurship is thus now under threat from
backlashes against globalization. With the rise of protectionist and nationalist policies,
institutions, which provide the basic framework within which entrepreneurs make decisions, are
becoming subject to significant change, which could in turn create institutional voids (Cumming
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& Zahra, 2016). While firms and managers are likely to face uncertainties and delays in business
decisions, these voids might also create business opportunities for entrepreneurs (Cumming &
Zahra, 2016). However, as indicated by previous empirical research, the identification and
exploitation of these market opportunities in different countries, and the bridging of institutional
voids across locations, will very much depend on the networking capabilities of the entrepreneurs
(Coviello & Munro, 1995; Gillian & Jay, 2006; Oviatt & McDougall, 2005). Therefore,
entrepreneurial firms, in order to overcome institutional constraints and exploit opportunities,
need to develop dynamic networking capabilities through active involvement in relationships
with business and non-business actors (Cumming & Zahra, 2016; Gillian & Jay, 2006). In this
vein, matching can operate as an appropriate concept for understanding how entrepreneurial firms
can use multiple levels of networking activities to overcome barriers as well as identify/exploit
opportunities. For instance, Cumming and Zahra (2016) discussed that the institutional upheaval
and uncertainties resulting from Brexit are likely to reduce the number of institutional investors
available to UK entrepreneurs, as such investors are likely to flow to other attractive locations. In
this context, macro-level networking activities with local governments or political actors might
help UK entrepreneurs to secure government loans.
The highlights of our findings are as follows. Firstly, matching, which emphasizes the
micro and macro levels of networking activities, shows a significant impact in terms of
alleviating the negative impact of internal barriers on export performance, in addition to its direct
positive impact on performance. This finding provides empirical evidence of the critical role of
matching in the international success of SMEs and entrepreneurial firms. The results demonstrate
that the main effect of matching is to alleviate the perceived internal barriers, such as difficulties
exploiting foreign opportunities and lack of foreign market knowledge, for SMEs and
entrepreneurs that export to international markets. For SMEs that lack substantial information
regarding foreign markets, micro and macro matching can help them to exchange information
and resources with different actors and thus to achieve a better position in an international market
(Elg, 2008; Elg et al., 2008). Matching activities can generate valuable market information and
in-depth understanding of customer needs as well as institutional and cultural contexts (Elg et al.,
2008; Ghauri & Holstius, 1996). These findings are also in line with previous findings
demonstrating the importance of political and institutional ties as a key resource for
Page 26 of 43
organizations, which can gain support from non-business actors when entering and operating in
foreign markets (Frynas et al., 2006; Lu et al., 2010; Peng & Luo, 2000).
However, our results do not find support for the notion of matching reducing firms’
external export barriers. This result may be due to the managers’ perceptions about the
insignificant impact of external barriers on firms’ exporting performance. In the context of SMEs,
managers might perceive the internal barriers to be the main impediments to their exporting
activities. Our findings also demonstrate that internal barriers have significant negative impacts
on export performance, whereas external barriers are not considered significant for export
performance. Hence, matching activities may be treated primarily as mechanisms through which
firms can overcome their liability of smallness and lack of resources, by managers who see
internal barriers as the key obstacle to exporting.
Secondly, the results confirm the important impact export commitment has on both the
perceived internal and external export barriers and export performance. It operates as a direct
determinant of the managers’ satisfaction with export performance, which is in line with previous
research that has indicated export commitment to be an important determinant of the international
success of export firms (Aaby & Slater, 1989; Cavusgil & Zou, 1994; Navarro et al., 2010b). A
key way in which export commitment may foster export performance may be that it enables the
effective implementation of a resource-led strategy (Navarro et al., 2010a). Despite the lack of
sufficient resources among SMEs, export commitment can provide strategic guidelines such that
they adequately and efficiently allocate their available limited resources to exporting activities.
Moreover, whereas prior work has mostly identified export commitment as a determinant of
success in foreign markets, we develop a direct link from commitment to export performance
outcomes, for a more exact understanding (Lages, Jap, & Griffith, 2008; Navarro et al., 2010a).
The findings also show that export commitment indirectly contributes to export performance
through a reduction of managers perceived internal and external export barriers. Highly
committed managers are likely to perceive the barriers to their exporting activities less
intensively, which might also affect their satisfaction with the achievement of their export
performance objectives in foreign markets.
Finally, we found a positive and significant relationship between export experience and
export performance, which is in line with previous research that found a positive impact of firms’
Page 27 of 43
international experience on their internationalization/exporting performance (see Clarke,
Tamaschke, & Liesch, 2013 for a comprehensive review; Love et al., 2016). International
experience has been considered a key element in explaining foreign market success. For instance,
Clarke et al. (2013, p.265) indicated that “the concept of international experience plays a leading
role in explaining firm internationalization”. We also found negative relationships from export
experience to internal and external export barriers, confirming that experience reduces the level
of export barriers perceived by the managers. This finding is in line with previous research
suggesting that experience gained through exposure to international markets helps firms,
particularly SMEs, to overcome the difficulties of doing business in foreign markets (Katsikeas et
al., 1996; Westhead, Wright, & Ucbasaran, 2001). Through their foreign market activities, firms
can develop experiential knowledge/learning, which in turn reduces managerial uncertainties
(Johanson & Vahlne, 2003, 2009).
5 Conclusion, limitations, and future research
Previous studies have pointed at the role of networks in enabling firms to overcome
exporting and internationalization barriers (Chetty & Blankenburg Holm, 2000; Coviello, 2006;
Shoham & Albaum, 1995; Zhou et al., 2007). However, previous research has mostly studied
micro- or macro-level networking activities separately. This study offers an in-depth
understanding of the role of networking activities, by incorporating the matching concept, which
deals with micro- and macro-level networks, into the export marketing literature. Our empirical
findings demonstrate that matching significantly alleviates the perceived internal export barriers,
which are a key obstacle to exporting in our empirical analysis.
The results clearly show the importance of developing and orchestrating network
relationships with multiple actors at different levels in order to overcome export barriers.
Contemporary structural and institutional changes in the IB environment, culminating in popular
globalization discontents, are likely to create additional uncertainties and barriers for
internationalizing firms. IB scholarship can help in understanding potential strategies that export
firms may take in order to survive and successfully compete.
The findings of this study offer important managerial implications, particularly for
owners/managers of small firms who develop export strategies against an increasingly
nationalistic context. Protectionist policies can significantly hurt export activities and put national
Page 28 of 43
economies at risk – particularly those with high exports-to-GDP ratios (e.g. Luxembourg,
Singapore, Ireland, and the Netherlands) (Ghemawat, 2017). While companies and managers are
reevaluating their export strategies in the light of today’s anti-globalization sentiments, they
should reconsider the depth and breadth of their networking activities with different actors in
multiple markets. Given the role of matching in alleviating internal barriers, it is thus particularly
important for SMEs, which are likely to experience more internal barriers as an outcome of their
liability of smallness compared to large MNEs, to develop relationships with multiple business
and non-business actors in both home and host markets. Matching activities can help them to
overcome internal barriers and improve foreign market-expansion success.
As with any study, our research findings should be interpreted keeping some limitations
in mind. First, the sample was restricted to firms within the UK. Replications of this study in
other countries, such as emerging countries, where state capitalism further distorts liberal market
ideas, may offer interesting variegated findings. A larger sample size might also be fruitful.
Second, this study concentrates on export commitment, export experience, and matching as the
exporting facilitators. Other potential determinants, such as using the internet to reduce export
barriers and enhance export performance, should be considered in future studies. As we discussed
earlier, technological advances, as one driver of globalization, could be exploited to overcome the
uncertainties coming from institutional change. Third, although this study firmly responds to the
call for further systematic research on matching, by following a causal approach (Elg et al.,
2008), the cross-sectional nature of the study limits our understanding of how and to what extent
matching activities affect performance outcomes at different phases of foreign market entry.
Additionally, it would be important to measure the level and intensity of globalization discontent
challenges explicitly and operationalize these in the questionnaire. In our study this is only a
context variable. Finally, this is the first, and a timely, empirical attempt to develop a
measurement scale of the matching construct, which could contribute considerably to future
research aiming to develop a more comprehensive network understanding of exporting and
internationalization. Building on our construct, future research strengthening the matching scale
through the addition of new items relating to micro and macro level activities may be particularly
Page 29 of 43
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7 Appendix – Figures and Tables
Figure 1: Conceptual model
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Table 1: Measurement scales
Construct measures
(CR= 0.782, AVE = 0.644) (strongly disagree=1, strongly agree=6,
neither agree nor disagree=0)
Micro-level networking activities
(Cronbach’s alpha = 0.862, CR= 0.903,
AVE = 0.701) (strongly disagree=1, strongly agree=7)
The company commits significant resources to making contact with existing
0.822 10.370
The company commits significant resources to making contact with new/potential
0.905 10.949
The company commits significant resources to making contact with existing
0.828 8.536
The company commits significant resources to making contact with new/potential
0.730 7.656
Overall the company is proactive in taking initiatives to create new contacts. 0.840 4.973
Macro-level networking activities (
Cronbach’s alpha = 0.744, CR= 0.816,
AVE = 0.543) (strongly disagree=1, strongly agree=7)
There are strong/tight bilateral agreements between our home market government
and the host government of the particular market.
0.670 3.278
The company has established good relationships with local government in this
particular market.
0.818 4.504
The company has established good relationships with local agents/consultants in
this particular market.
0.934 4.716
The company has explored possibilities for local financing (banks/local government
loans etc.).
0.430 2.011
Internal barriers
(Cronbach’s alpha = 0.839, CR= 0.879, AVE = 0.510) (not at
all=1, very much=7)
Lack of managerial time to deal with exports 0.685 10.313
Inadequate/untrained personnel for exporting 0.757 14.370
Lack of excess production capacity for exports 0.820 19.151
Limited international market data 0.655 8.812
Difficulty in identifying foreign business opportunities 0.686 11.024
Unavailability of warehousing facilities abroad 0.698 11.060
Difficulty in developing new products for foreign markets 0.688 9.439
External barriers
(Cronbach’s alpha = 0.712, CR= 0.816, AVE = 0.528) (not at
all=1, very much=7)
Unfamiliar exporting procedures/documentation 0.805 10.637
Inability to contact overseas customers 0.624 4.320
Different socio-cultural environments 0.745 7.013
Unfamiliar foreign business practices 0.722 6.582
Export commitment
(Cronbach’s alpha = 0.869, CR= 0.939, AVE = 0.884)
(strongly disagree=1, strongly agree=7)
We are committing significant resources to the export venture. 0.937 49.662
Management is demonstrating strong commitment to the export venture. 0.943 70.071
Export performance
(Cronbach’s alpha = 0.945, CR= 0.958, AVE = 0.822)
(not at all satisfied=1, very satisfied=6)
Export sales ratio 0.883 28.435
Export sales growth 0.944 76.698
Export sales volume 0.957 92.551
Contribution of exporting to profits 0.797 12.065
Overall export performance 0.944 79.835
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Table 2: Descriptive statistics of the sample
Firm age
Size of
Engineering 31.10% 1-5 years 14.0% 1 3.3% Up to 5 years 32.6%
Textiles 10.40% 6-10 years 14.0% 2 to 5 20.9% 6 to 10 years 18.5%
Chemicals 4.70% 11-15 years 10.8% 6 to 10 11% 11 to 20 years 20.7%
Automotive 3.80% 16-20 years 10.8% 11 to 25 24.2% 21 to 30 years 9.8%
Furnishing 2.80% 21-25 years 9.7% 26 to 50 14.3% 31 to 40 years 8.7%
Giftware 1.90% 26-30 years 7.5% 51 to 100 12.1% 41 years and
Biotechnology 0.90% 31-50 years 14.0% 101 to 250 14.3%
Electronics 0.90% 51-100 years 10.8%
Other 42.40% more than
100 years
Table 3: Discriminant validity
Fornell-Lacker criterion Heterotrait-monotrait ratio
EP 0.907 EP
EC 0.450 0.940 EC 0.497
EE 0.225 -0.007 1.000 EE 0.232 0.025
EB -0.184
-0.298 -0.254 0.719 EB 0.204 0.359 0.290
IB -0.454
-0.366 -0.414 0.665 0.714 IB 0.507 0.425 0.456 0.855
MC 0.317 0.349 -0.107 -0.082 -0.064 0.803 MC 0.473 0.569 0.165 0.227 0.180
Notes: EP: export performance; EC: export commitment; EE: export experience; EB: external barriers; IB: internal
barriers; MC: matching. Fornell-Lacker criterion: bold figures on the diagonal are the square roots of AVE.
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Table 4
: Assessment of the structural model
Hypothesized relationships
H1a: internal barriers export performance
H1b: external barriers export performance
H2: export commitment export performance 0.333** 3.449 Yes
H3a: export commitment internal barriers
H3b: export commitment external barriers
H4: export experience export performance 0.146* 2.205 Yes
H5a: export experience internal barriers
H5b: export experience external barriers
H6: matching export performance 0.251* 2.231 Yes
H7a: matching* internal barriers export
H7b: matching* external barriers export
Control variable
Firm size
Note: **, p<0.01; *, p<0.05
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Figure 2: Assessment of the structural model
Note: **, p<0.01; *, p<0.05
... This is because reverse causal inference motivates studies on the estimation of effects; it is used for model testing and the development of hypotheses (Gelman and Imbens, 2013). We adopt Gelman and Imbens (2013); Gelman (2011) to test the hypotheses of Sinkovics et al., (2018) on the negative effect of internal barriers on firm export performance and whether or not the benefit from networks could mitigate the negative effects of the internal barriers on firm export performance. Our analysis is based on the World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES) data for Cameroon. ...
... Exporting is considered one of the most common means of internationalisation for Small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) (Kahiya and Dean, 2014;Sinkovics et al., 2018;Samiee and Chirapanda, 2019;Altintas et al., 2017;Ojala and Tyrväinen, 2007;Suarez-Ortega, 2003;Rahman et al., 2017;Manolopoulosa et al., 2018;Leonidou, 2004;Julian and Ahmed 2005;Arteaga-Ortiz and Fernández-Ortiz, 2010).Through exporting, SMEs could benefit from better-performing markets to improve their performance. Such improved performance accelerates economic development, especially for less developing economies where SMEs contribution cannot be overemphasised (Rahmanet al., 2017;Olawale and Garwe, 2010;Milanzi, 2012). ...
... Lack of finance as an export barrier limits the exporting activities of SMEs, and this negatively affects their performance (Sinkovics et al., 2018;Rahman et al., 2017;Samiee and Chirapanda, 2019;Altintas et al., 2017;Suarez-Ortega, 2003;Milanzi, 2012;Julian and Ahmed 2005). Overcoming such a barrier is, therefore, key to improving performance. ...
Full-text available
The performance of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) is an important determinant of economic development, especially in developing countries like Cameroon. However, due to financial constraints, SMEs in Cameroon do face significant challenges to exporting, which affect their export performance. Many SMEs develop relationships with financial institutions to benefit from loans to overcome export barriers. However, there is no evidence as to whether such benefits help them overcome the limitations of their financial constraints to improve their export performance. Using data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey 2016 in Cameroon, we examine the moderation effect of loans as a benefit of networks on the relationship between financial constraints and export performance for SMEs in Cameroon using regression analysis. Our results show that financial constraints negatively affect export performance. The moderation effect was significant but negative which means the benefit of network (loans) was not enough to offset the negative effect of financial constraints on export performance. Studies on export barriers and export performance for SMEs in Cameroon are scarce and our research provides some policy and managerial implications to help SME exporting in Cameroon.
... Although there are various classifications regarding export barriers (Arteaga-Ortiz & Fernández-Ortiz, 2010), many researchers such as Narayanan (2015), Al-Hyari et al., 2012 andSilva et al. (2016) have recognized the categorization of Leonidou (2004) who defines those barriers into two different categories, namely, internal and external (Leonidou, 2004). Both internal and external export barriers have negative impacts on export performance of companies (Sinkovics et al., 2018;Al-Hyari et al., 2012;Adu-Gyamfi & Korneliussen, 2013). While internal barriers stem from firms' insufficient organizational resource and capabilities (Sinkovics et al., 2018;Al-Hyari et al., 2012;Leonidou, 2004), external barriers are based on factors that firms cannot have impacts on and come from outside or surroundings of the companies (Leonidou, 2004;Forte & Salomé Moreira, 2018;Adu-Gyamfi & Korneliussen, 2013). ...
... Both internal and external export barriers have negative impacts on export performance of companies (Sinkovics et al., 2018;Al-Hyari et al., 2012;Adu-Gyamfi & Korneliussen, 2013). While internal barriers stem from firms' insufficient organizational resource and capabilities (Sinkovics et al., 2018;Al-Hyari et al., 2012;Leonidou, 2004), external barriers are based on factors that firms cannot have impacts on and come from outside or surroundings of the companies (Leonidou, 2004;Forte & Salomé Moreira, 2018;Adu-Gyamfi & Korneliussen, 2013). ...
... In this regard, Pangarkar (2008) also professes the fact that when SMEs have negative perceptions regarding their financial performance, they also more intensively perceive legislative and tax-related obstacles since they operate in a particular market. Sinkovics et al (2018) also analyze SMEs from the UK and declare the fact that higher perceived internal external barriers such as lack of financial power cause firms having lower export performance, thus, more intensive perception of tax-related export obstacles. 873 Cultural-linguistic differences can also be costly for SMEs, since the differences in norms and values of various countries might require SMEs to make changes in their products and services or in their marketing strategies. ...
Full-text available
Research background: Due to having lack of financial power and low amount of revenues, most of SMEs' major concerns are bankruptcy and low financial performance. Those issues are risky situations for SMEs when making for their exporting activities. Therefore, depending on their performance and bankruptcy risk, they might more intensively perceive export barriers and this fact might determine their export decisions. Purpose of the article: This paper examines whether financial performance and bankruptcy concerns of SMEs affect their perceptions of export obstacles or not. Methods: This research performs random sampling method and directs an internet-mediated questionnaire to the selected respondents who are the executives of 408 Czech, Slovakian and Hungarian SMEs. To examine the influences of firm performance and bankruptcy on the perceptions of export impediments by SMEs, this paper employs Ordinal Logistic Regression Test. Findings & value added: The results show that SMEs having less healthy financial conditions less intensively perceive cultural-linguistic export barriers in comparison with SMEs having better financial performance. Moreover, firm performance is not a predictor variable in the perceptions of export costs, legislative and tax-related barriers by SMEs. On the other hand, while SMEs having more bankruptcy concerns more intensively perceive tax-related and cultural-linguistic barriers, bankruptcy concerns of SMEs do not influence their perceptions of export costs and legislative differences. Although many studies have investigated the impacts of financial conditions of SMEs on their internationalization and exporting decisions, they are isolated with only a market or only with a financial issue. The limited extents of those studies cause a partial investigation of export and financial issues of SMEs and make readers having a narrow perspective in this specific area. By focusing on various export obstacles and financial issues that SMEs face in different markets, this research offers a detailed understanding of SMEs’ perceptions regarding their financial conditions and export barriers, from a comprehensive perspective. In this regard, this is the research gap that this paper aims to fill.
... Commitment fully mediates the relations between international experience and performance of exporting. Sinkovics et al. (2018) in their research conducted at the level of small and mediumsized companies active in the field of export in the United Kingdom have concluded that international experience and commitment have a striking and affirmative impression on export performance. Mahmoud et al. (2020) in a study conducted at 210 companies active in the field of export with a history of using social media in Ghana have found that the ability to market directly and with respect to the mediating role of trust and commitment has an impressive impact on export performance and there is a positive relationship between them. ...
... International Experience. Export experience is considered as the main factor in reducing export uncertainty, and according to the evidence, with increasing export experience, companies are more likely to witness conditions based on less uncertainty in their export activities (Sinkovics et al., 2018). Export knowledge and experience is essential to enter international markets (Okpara, 2010). ...
... Such barriers have an adverse impact on the decision-maker's evaluation of CBEC opportunities by increasing the perceived cost and difficulty of exporting and/ or reducing perceived export market attractiveness (Doern, 2009). Thus, we expect CBEC barriers, just like traditional export barriers, to prevent the firm from committing adequate resources to exporting, which will damage its export performance (Julian & Ahmed, 2005;Sinkovics et al., 2018;Stoian et al., 2011). CBEC barriers are also expected to negatively affect the competitiveness of the exporting firm, by increasing the trade costs associated with delivering the goods or services to foreign customers and inhibiting the efficiency of business transactions (Kneller & Pisu, 2011). ...
Full-text available
Despite voluminous research on barriers to exporting, knowledge on the inhibiting role of specific obstacles confronted by firms when exporting via cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) is virtually absent. Using data from a cross-industry sample of 1256 firms located in 25 different European countries, we shed light on this issue by examining the organizational determinants and performance outcomes of CBEC barriers. The results revealed these barriers are more evident in the case of firms with smaller size, lacking experience, and having no affiliation with other companies. It was also found that all different types of CBEC barriers, namely financial complexities, coping with foreign markets, supplier restrictions, technical difficulties, and product limitations, are negatively affecting online export performance. Finally, both the home country’s level of digital infrastructure and the foreign market’s Internet penetration rate exhibited a strong moderating effect on the association between CBEC barriers and export performance.
... Export performance is how a company's financial and operational objectives are met through its export marketing strategy and measured by the volume of sales, market share, sales growth, customer satisfaction, and profitability [2,36]. It is also referred to as an effect of a company's export operation, which includes marketing and other business activities in international markets, or the degree to which a company achieves its objectives in terms of exporting goods and services to a foreign market [2,37,38]. Export performance is a key indicator for managers when making decisions in international operations because it fosters growth and ensures the company's long-term existence [39]. The export performance is critical for developing-country firms that see the global market as a source of economic growth, continued existence, or competitive nature [40]. ...
Full-text available
Corporate social responsibility and managerial commitment are both essential to long-term commercial success. In this study, corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices in Ethiopia’s coffee exporting enterprises are used as a mediating factor to assess the impact of management commitment on sustainable coffee export performance. This study used both quantitative and qualitative research methods and primary and secondary data sources obtained from the 236 sampled coffee exporting enterprises in Ethiopia. In addition, this study used a standardized questionnaire to collect data. To determine the causal link between management commitment, corporate social responsibility, and sustainable export performance, the obtained data were analyzed using PLS structural equation modeling version 3.2.8 and SPSS version 25. The outcome demonstrates that management commitment and corporate social responsibility have a favorable and considerable impact on companies’ performance in exporting sustainably grown coffee. Results also showed that the effect of management commitment on sustainable export performance was partially mediated by CSR. The survey also revealed that while most private enterprises have not yet begun CSR, certain coffee exporting companies, notably cooperative unions in Ethiopia, have integrated CSR practices into their operations to increase export performance. In order to help practitioners and decision-makers comprehend the advantages of management commitment and CSR in creating sustainable coffee export performance, this study offers strategic recommendations. In addition, the study has contributed to the existing literature.
... Exporting is an essential strategy for internationalization (Cano-Rubio et al., 2017;Jean & Kim, 2020). Firms benefit from exporting due to economies of scale, the opportunity to increase their performance while reducing their risk, and improvements in production efficiency as well as becoming more attractive to shareholders and employees, among other reasons (Sinkovics et al., 2018). However, achieving these benefits has often proven to be problematic due to a series of barriers that impede the export process (Leonidou, 1995a). ...
Full-text available
The objective of this study is to analyse the effect of four export barrier groups − human capital, cultural, administrative, and financial − on the product export barrier. The study participants constitute a statistically significant sample of 318 exporting companies in Brazil. The research model is tested using structural equation modelling, specifically the partial least squares (PLS-SEM) technique, and SmartPLS version 3.2.9. The results confirm that there is a significant effect of three export barriers − human capital, cultural, and financial − on the product export barrier. The effect of the administrative barrier on the product barrier is not verified. Besides, the effects of the human capital barrier on the cultural barrier and the administrative barrier on the financial barrier are verified. The mutual interaction between export barriers makes it advisable to manage each type of barrier.
... As expected, a large majority of the studies confirm the existence of an inverse relationship between these barriers and export performance. Some of the barriers and their negative impacts may be notably weakened by firms by interacting with their network (Baum, Schwens, & Kabst, 2013;Boehe, 2013;Sinkovics, Kurt, & Sinkovics, 2018;Sraha, Sharma, Crick, & Crick, 2020) or by applying technological tools (Hosseini, Fallon, Weerakkody, & Sivarajah, 2019). Few studies point out that specific barriers may even cause a positive impact in the long run, such as developing adaptability to foreign markets and international competition (Kahiya, 2018;, because they force firms to seek more efficiency and become more competitive. ...
Full-text available
Objective: to explore perceptions that stakeholders of Brazilian firms from the Creative Economy have regarding internationalization barriers.Method: a multiple-case study was carried out involving three small- and medium-sized Brazilian enterprises (SMEs), producers and experienced exporters of creative goods.Main findings: internal barriers, mainly those functional- and price-related, are perceived as the most important, while product-related barriers seem to be irrelevant. Among external barriers, economic and governmental constraints seem to stand out, which indicates the need for some regulatory and export incentive improvement.Relevance/ originality: while exports of creative goods from emerging economies have grown since beginning of this century and even surpassed those from developed economies, Brazil has gone in the opposite direction, reducing its exports of this kind of goods. This suggests the existence of relevant barriers to the internationalization of local firms belonging to the Creative Economy. This study adds to the literature about export barriers, most of it centered in large manufactures from developed economies.Teorethical/ methological contributions: the identified preponderance of internal barriers to internationalization, mainly due to the scarcity of human and financial resources, also makes it harder for the firms to deal with external barriers imposed by governments and competitors. On the other hand, low product-related and socioeconomic barriers suggest that creative products are most valued exactly by their originality and differentiation.Keywords: International business; Internationalization barriers; Export barriers; Creative economy; Creative industries.
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El presente trabajo es parte de la propuesta de investigación doctoral titulada “Innovación de procesos productivos como generador de ventaja competitiva en empresas medianas manufactureras exportadoras: caso Caribe colombiano”. En este apartado se propone la revisión de literatura existente alrededor de estas dos variables en los niveles nacional e internacional. La propuesta se configura a partir de las necesidades de superación de brechas de desarrollo económico y social en la costa caribe colombiana, en busca de apostar por la innovación de procesos como una alternativa viable para la consolidación de las empresas medianas dedicadas a la manufactura y cuyos productos son principalmente dirigidos hacia el mercado externo. Se abordan los problemas complejos que atraviesa el sector, centrados en la disminución de la demanda tanto interna como externa, costos elevados de transacción y transporte, y dificultades a la hora de cumplir con los requisitos de exportación.
This research verifies the moderating effect of informal institutions on the relationship between organisational innovation and organisational learning in the export performance between two countries with diverse cultural characteristics. In the same way, this research attempted to verify whether there is a bidirectional relationship between organisational learning and export performance. To achieve the research purpose, a model of dynamic structural equations is conducted. It is possible to consider that bets on strategies for innovation in the company's products are important, as this allows more efficient access to external markets. The results show the need for innovation activities in a country's economic development and, therefore, the need to improve the conditions of the production platform and its impact at the country level. The most significant value of this research paper is its identification of the bidirectional relationship between organisational innovation and a country's export activity.
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This note provides an overview of the employment impact of exporting activity in the EU. We find that the exports of goods and services to the rest of the world supported around 25 million jobs in Europe in 2007 (an increase of 3 million since 2000). Two main additional insights stand out from this analysis: the importance of the complementary relation between the Single Market and external trade for job creation in Europe, and the “servicification” of the employment supported by exports.
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Reflecting on two key themes of AIB’s 2017 annual conference in Dubai, this article discusses whether we are, in fact, experiencing a rapidly de-globalizing world and whether we, as a field of IB, are losing relevance. It asks the two questions of “So what does this mean for our field? And why should times of trouble—where globalization might or might not be under threat—be a second breath of life for IB?“ and encourages us to contemplate the true raison d’être of our field of IB, and ourselves as IB scholars.
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Purpose This study aims to utilise key insights from social network theory (SNT) to enhance understanding of overcoming the liability of outsidership as a prerequisite for firm internationalization. Specifically, it seeks to examine the influence of structural attributes of networks on the motivational stance of both network insiders and outsiders in relation to overcoming the liability of outsidership. A related aim is to explore the role of network positions of insider actors in terms of its impact on the speed of market entry. Design/methodology/approach The article draws on the extant literatures on firm internationalization, particularly the liability of outsidership, and SNT to identify to what extent SNT can be utilised to deeply understand the process of overcoming the liability of outsidership. We put forward eight propositions linking structural and positioning attributes of networks with overcoming the liability of outsidership. Findings SNT provides strong potential for a more comprehensive understanding of the internationalization phenomena through shedding light on the inter-relationship between the liability of foreignness and the liability of outsidership. The paper demonstrates that while the cost of overcoming the liability of outsidership is higher in closed target network as compared to open networks, the expected benefits of an insider position in closed or open network is affected by the outsider firm’s perception of the liability of foreignness in the market it wishes to enter. Considering the differential enabling characteristics of closed and open network in terms of facilitating tacit knowledge sharing as opposed to explicit information flows, we reveal that liability of foreignness operates as a negative moderator for the relationship between network structure and the willingness of the outsider to invest in gaining insidership. The analysis of the paper also shows that the positional attributes of the network insider are relevant in outsiders’ motivation in terms of the speed of market entry that they seek to achieve. Originality/value This study theoretically contributes to the internationalization research through integrating SNT with the liability of outsidership understanding of firm internationalization. This is a timely attempt as no systematic application of the conceptual apparatus of SNT in the internationalization research context has been studied. It adds a more coherent inside-out perspective into the overcoming the liability of outsidership discussion which has been extensively dominated by an outside-in perspective.
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Globalization has been facing a backlash. By contrast, entrepreneurship has come to be seen as a panacea for economic development and generating jobs that are perceived to be under threat from globalization. In this Perspectives paper, our central argument is that globalization and entrepreneurship must be viewed holistically, recognizing that globalization is an enabler of important entrepreneurship outcomes. We argue that networks created as a byproduct of globalization facilitate various forms of entrepreneurship. Interpersonal networks (e.g., diasporas) facilitate transnational entrepreneurship which can, in turn, reduce institutional distance between locations. Interorganizational networks (e.g., MNE-orchestrated ecosystems) facilitate technology entrepreneurship which reinforces the institutional work that gives rise to new technological domains and fields. Intergovernmental and civil society networks facilitate social entrepreneurship which helps redress institutional voids. Thus globalization can be a force for good by enabling forms of entrepreneurship that enable important institutional change. We highlight the importance of paradox thinking, which is rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy, in transcending an either/or perspective of globalization and entrepreneurship.
This book analyzes how the EU referendum in the United Kingdom came to pass and what the foreseeable consequences are for the UK, Europe, US and world economy. The Brexit decision represents a momentous event for Europe, which weakens the EU and shifts the global balance of power. Welfens argues the EU has lost its appeal and is not in keeping with the twenty-first century, which is being shaped by Asia and digital innovations. The subject of immigration from EU countries played a key role in the Brexit decision, with an anti-EU campaign that was profoundly biased. The estimated impact of the referendum was deeply distorted by the broadly inadequate information produced by the Cameron government, which omitted the expected 10 percent loss in income caused by leaving the EU. With this this information, there could have been a clear pro-EU majority. In the absence of a second referendum, one cannot know what the British electorate really wants. Both the Brexit decision and new President of the United States Donald Trump's approach to European disintegration dynamics also raise serious questions about the future of transatlantic relations.
Innovation is increasingly the outcome of global networks that connect geographically dispersed knowledge centers. The international business (IB) literature has developed a sophisticated understanding of the multinational enterprise (MNE) as an organization generates value by integrating knowledge across national borders. We advance this literature by making three key arguments. First we highlight the three megatrends that shape the strategy of the modern MNE: the disaggregation of the value chain into ever narrower activities, the migration of value to knowledge-intensive intangibles and the rise of huge emerging markets like China and India, whose domestic firms can grow to enormous size before venturing abroad. Second, we trace these three megatrends to falling spatial transaction costs, enabled in the main, by digitalization. Third, we draw on earlier research on the generic forms of global linkages, arguing that the IB literature has limited itself to organizational pipelines, while paying relatively little attention to personal relationships. The latter are particularly important in the genesis of both entrepreneurship and radical innovation, but are particularly sensitive to the anti-globalization policies. An environment where technology continues to reduce spatial transaction costs, while policy raises them, strengthens large MNEs at the expense of innovative international new ventures.