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Bank relationships’ contributions to SME export performance

Heléne Lundberg (Department of Business, Economics and Law, Centre for Research on Economic Relations, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Article publication date: 12 February 2019

Issue publication date: 18 June 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine to what extent, and in what ways, various types of bank support improve small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) export performance. It contributes to bank marketing and international marketing theory and practice by clarifying bank contributions to SME export performance at the firm level.


The study method is an on-site survey, encompassing 135 manufacturing Swedish SMEs. Five hypotheses are tested using ordinary least squares regression.


The higher the export performance, the greater the importance attributed to bank funding of international business. The importance of transaction and/or currency services provided by banks for SMEs’ ability to do business abroad was confirmed, but with the important limitation that the effect diminishes as the number of markets increases. Furthermore, the results indicate that SMEs with low export performance attach a high importance to the advisory services that banks can offer regarding international business. No significant results for knowledge sharing or support from bank contacts were found.

Practical implications

SME managers are encouraged to view banks as potential providers of a diverse set of value-added resources while taking into consideration that some banks will have more developed resources and support policies than others. The study results also assist banks in building effective strategies for enhancing their relationships with SME clients, as it provides detailed information on how SMEs relate different kinds of bank services to their export performance.


As the first paper to describe SME-perceived relationships between different bank services and export performance, this study informs bank marketing and international marketing theory about bank contributions to SME internationalisation.



Lundberg, H. (2019), "Bank relationships’ contributions to SME export performance", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 37 No. 5, pp. 1143-1164.



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