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