Perceived Export Performance: The Invisible Part of the Iceberg

Arash Sadeghi*, Sylvie Chetty, Elizabeth Rose

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study offers a more fine-grained view of perceived export performance (EP) and map out the key aspects of this phenomenon from the perspective of SME managers. Particularly, we explore the differences in managers' practices and their perceptions about underlying aspects of EP, including level of analysis, type of performance, mode of assessment, criteria, time frames, and frames of references. Furthermore, we explore some of the key reasons for variations in EP assessment practices. This study adopts an inductive approach based on semistructured interviews with 20 exporting SMEs in New Zealand. We observed that firms exhibit distinctive behavior in their EP assessment depending on their type of ownership, stage of internationalization, and perceived psychic distance toward target markets. We challenge the assumption that a single, universal EP evaluation model can be used for SMEs and suggest that the appropriate conceptualization of EP should be dictated by each firm's strategic orientation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-686
Number of pages20
JournalThunderbird International Business Review
Issue number6
Early online date29 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Authors. Thunderbird International Business Review published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.


  • export performance
  • managerial perception
  • small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • success measures
  • behavioral theory


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