Strategic flexibilities and export performance

John W. Cadogan (Loughborough University Business School, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Sanna Sundqvist (School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Kaisu Puumalainen (School of Business, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Risto T. Salminen (Faculty of Technology Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Publication date: 14 September 2012



The study aims to develop and test a model of export performance, focusing on the degree to which firms have different types of export flexibility and the degree to which firms adopt market‐oriented behavior in their export operations (i.e. their degree of export market‐oriented [EMO] behavior). Furthermore, the study seeks to examine the moderating roles that EMO behavior and export environment play with respect to the relationships between export flexibility dimensions and export performance.


The model is tested on a sample of 783 exporting firms. Data were collected via mail survey. Analysis was undertaken using structural equation modeling.


EMO behavior moderates the relationship between export flexibility and export sales performance. However, EMO behavior's moderating role differs depending on (a) the source of the export flexibility, and (b) the environmental conditions the firms face. Increasing levels of EMO behavior are associated with increased export sales performance under all conditions studied.

Research limitations/implications

Reliance on cross‐sectional data may limit generalizability, as may the reliance on single country data. Additional sources of export flexibility should be modeled, as should more complex models of the export environment.

Practical implications

The findings identify several situations when EMO behavior is most beneficial and others where it is beneficial (but less so). Similarly, the results pinpoint situations where greater levels of export flexibility are a necessity. Managers should look to exploit this knowledge by enhancing EMO behavior and export flexibility.


This study is one of the very few that explicitly identifies export flexibility as a source of competitive advantage in the exporting literature. It is also the first study to suggest that EMO behavior's ability to shape export success is determined in part by other factors internal to the firm (e.g. export flexibility), as well as factors external to the firm (environment).



Cadogan, J., Sundqvist, S., Puumalainen, K. and Salminen, R. (2012), "Strategic flexibilities and export performance", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 46 No. 10, pp. 1418-1452.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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