Spontaneity and international marketing performance

Anne L. Souchon (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Paul Hughes (Durham Business School, Ushaw College, Durham University, Durham, UK)
Andrew M. Farrell (Aston Business School, Aston University, Birmingham, UK)
Ekaterina Nemkova (Nottingham University Business School, Nottingham University, Nottingham, UK )
João S. Oliveira (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Publication date: 12 September 2016



The purpose of this paper is to ascertain how today’s international marketers can perform better on the global scene by harnessing spontaneity.


The authors draw on contingency theory to develop a model of the spontaneity – international marketing performance relationship, and identify three potential moderators, namely, strategic planning, centralization, and market dynamism. The authors test the model via structural equation modeling with survey data from 197 UK exporters.


The results indicate that spontaneity is beneficial to exporters in terms of enhancing profit performance. In addition, greater centralization and strategic planning strengthen the positive effects of spontaneity. However, market dynamism mitigates the positive effect of spontaneity on export performance (when customer needs are volatile, spontaneous decisions do not function as well in terms of ensuring success).

Practical implications

Learning to be spontaneous when making export decisions appears to result in favorable outcomes for the export function. To harness spontaneity, export managers should look to develop company heuristics (increase centralization and strategic planning). Finally, if operating in dynamic export market environments, the role of spontaneity is weaker, so more conventional decision-making approaches should be adopted.


The international marketing environment typically requires decisions to be flexible and fast. In this context, spontaneity could enable accelerated and responsive decision-making, allowing international marketers to realize superior performance. Yet, there is a lack of research on decision-making spontaneity and its potential for international marketing performance enhancement.



Souchon, A., Hughes, P., Farrell, A., Nemkova, E. and Oliveira, J. (2016), "Spontaneity and international marketing performance", International Marketing Review, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 671-690. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-06-2014-0199

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