The present study develops and empirically tests a conceptual model of the organizational, strategic, and environmental drivers of export innovativeness. The relationship between export innovativeness and export performance is also examined. Using data collected from 168 small- and medium-sized direct exporters, we find that decentralization in decision making, export market orientation, information exchange and export market dynamism have a significant influence on exporting firms’ degree of innovativeness. Furthermore, export innovativeness has a significant positive effect on export performance. Several theoretical and managerial implications are derived from these findings. Directions for future research are also provided.
During the past 50 years, numerous studies have been published on the determinants of export performance (Chen, Sousa, & Hinming, 2016; Katsikeas, Leonidou, & Morgan, 2000; Leonidou, Katsikeas, & Samiee, 2002; Zou & Stan, 1998). The significant contribution of exporting to world gross domestic product (nearly 30% in 2015 according to World Bank statistics) and the popularity of exporting as a mode of international market entry (especially among small- and medium-sized firms) have spurred a substantial number of studies aiming at identifying the factors responsible for export success (Leonidou et al., 2002). Early studies in this area focused on the influence of environmental factors and firm characteristics (Aaby & Slater, 1989; Madsen, 1989). During the 1990s researchers’ attention was directed towards investigating the antecedents and performance outcomes of export strategy (Aulakh, Kotabe, & Teegen, 2000; Cavusgil & Zou, 1994), whereas more recent studies emphasize the role of firm export-related resources and capabilities (Morgan, Katsikeas, & Vorhies, 2012; Murray, Gao, & Kotabe, 2011). Despite the large number of determinants of export performance investigated in previous studies (Chen, Sousa, & Hinming, 2016; Zou & Stan,1998) a review of the exporting literature reveals that limited research attention has been devoted on the role of export innovativeness (Boso, Story, Cadogan, Micevski, & KadicMaglajlic, 2013). This scarcity of knowledge represents an important research gap, considering the crucial role that exporting can play for the survival and growth of firms, particularly smalland medium-sized ones, and the potential positive contribution of innovativeness to export success. In recent years, the concept of innovativeness and its relationship with other organizational variables has attracted attention in several business disciplines (Joshi, Das, & Mouri, 2015). Furthermore, the wide recognition that innovativeness is related to enhanced business performance has spurred a large volume of research that examines the factors that stimulate firm innovativeness, the innovation process, and the chain of effects that link innovativeness to performance (Hult, Hurley, & Knight, 2004; Menguc & Auh, 2010; Zhou, Yim, & Tse, 2005). However, to the best of our knowledge, no previous study has investigated export innovativeness as a strategic orientation that favors and encourages the adoption of new ideas, accepts and stimulates novel approaches to export market needs, and challenges current practices and assumptions.