Strategic choices, export orientation and export performance of SMEs in Nigeria

John O. Okpara (College of Business, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 4 September 2009



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of entrepreneurial export orientation on the performance of SMEs in Nigeria.


The study follows a quantitative research design using survey methods with statistical treatment. Several t‐tests and correlation tests were used to ascertain whether differences exist between proactive export orientation and conservative export orientation and performance.


The findings indicate that proactive entrepreneurs were more engaged in the export market than conservatives. The findings also suggest that firms that adopted proactive orientation achieved higher performance, profitability, and growth compared with those that adopted a conservative orientation. It was also found that proactive entrepreneurs allocated more financial resources for export activities than conservative entrepreneurs.

Research limitations/implications

The research was limited to four cities; a broader geographic sampling to include larger urban and rural areas would better reflect the national profile. The study is limited to four industrial sectors; thus the results cannot be applied to other sectors that were not part of this study.

Practical implications

The study offers practical suggestions on how SMEs can improve growth, performance, and profitability by engaging in proactive export orientation behaviors. The paper also stresses the importance of developing export markets because it enhances growth, performance, and profitability.


The study draws owners'/managers' attention to the fact that proactive export behavior enhances performance, growth, and productivity. It also provides insight into the export orientation and performance issue, which should contribute to the future development of this line of research, particularly in developing countries such as Nigeria. Therefore, the study is of significant value to practitioners and scholars alike.



Okpara, J.O. (2009), "Strategic choices, export orientation and export performance of SMEs in Nigeria", Management Decision, Vol. 47 No. 8, pp. 1281-1299.

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