International and export behavior of firms : a critical review and empirical assessment

Sammanfattning: The current thesis examines exporting as a leading discipline in International Business and sheds light into various exporting issues which have not been thoroughly investigated in the past. The thesis is divided into two parts. The first part includes two studies based on literature review, specifically on International Management and Exporting. The first study refers to a content analysis of publications in Management International Review while the second study deals with the content analysis of exporting literature. The second part of the thesis includes four distinctive surveys relating to exporting issues in various countries i.e. the UK, Cyprus, and Malta. The first survey deals with the export management attitudes related to managerial and organizational parameters, and businesses’ capabilities in the UK, while the second survey evaluates the effectiveness of export promotion programs on Cypriot firms’ export performance. The third survey deals with export sales management, particularly, the managerial drivers on Cypriot and Maltese firms’ export performance and finally, the fourth survey relates to the Cypriot importers’ perceptions on exporters’ unethical marketing behavior. The six papers contained in the thesis are separately discussed as follows. The first article presents a content analysis of publications in Management International Review for the fifteen-year period of 1993-2007. A total of 360 papers appearing in the journal during that period were analyzed to identify the key trends in the evolution of Management International Review. The five major themes addressed examine the nature of authorship, identify and rank the most prolific authors, evaluate the characteristics of the articles, recognize the most influential articles based on the number of citations they received, as well as uncover the specific thematic areas within the published articles. The study combines publishing productivity and citation analyses. The conclusions drawn from the study are presented along with some guidelines for future research. The main contribution/outcome of this paper linked to the current thesis, is that exporting is still a growing area of study with an increasing number of surveys dealing with aspects related to exporting and export behavior of a firm. The second article demonstrates that exporting has established itself as an important field of research within the overall international business discipline. This is an attempt to provide a bibliographic analysis showing how exporting has evolved over time. This article shows a content analysis of 821 export business-related papers published in 75 academic journals during the five-decade period of 1960-2007. The analysis focuses on five major areas: characteristics of authors involved in exporting research; major contributors of exporting publications based on their productivity; characteristics of manuscripts published on exporting; exporting articles with the greatest impact in the field; and specific themes that exporting research has covered over time. The major contribution of this paper to science is that exporting literature has experienced a phenomenal advancement, continuous refinement, improved quality and extensive topical coverage. The third article refers to export management attitudes and a mail survey was carried out based on a random stratified sample of 270 businesses from all industrial sectors located in Manchester (UK) producing 107 usable responses. The main contributions/outcomes of this paper to export management attitudes run as follows: a) The attitudinal factorial model with positive and negative attitudes which is proposed, adds depth to the factorial models already existing in the literature, since it includes positive attitudes (i.e. general export attitudes, and export stimulation attitudes) and negative attitudes (i.e. attitudes on export barriers); b) The synthesis of export attitudes improves the structure of the attitudinal factorial model; and c) UK chief executive officers and export promotion organizations, in order to achieve higher firm’s export performance, can alter the significant differences i.e. managerial parameters (manager travelling abroad, the education level and the knowledge of foreign languages) organizational parameters (sales turnover, organizational age and ownership), and businesses’ capabilities (marketing, production, finance and R&D). The fourth article aims to assess the effectiveness of forty-two export promotion programs among forty-six Cypriot export manufacturing SMEs. The survey is based on forty-six personal interviews of export managers and the questions of the semi-structured questionnaire have been verified using a pilot study of four in-depth interviews. The major contributions/outcomes of this paper to the effectiveness of export promotion programs refer to the following four issues: a) The development of a two-step method of evaluating the effectiveness of export promotion programs consisted of qualitative measures (i.e., the level of awareness, adoption and usefulness of the export promotion programs, related to the organizational, the internationalization, and export performance parameters) and quantitative measures (i.e., the number of the significant differences of the above parameters); b) The most important categories of export promotion programs for modification are financial aspects of marketing, marketing mix, education and training, and market targeting; c) The proposed model shows that there exist three positive relationships between the levels of usefulness and adoption, awareness and adoption, and usefulness and awareness, provided that there are significant differences among the sub-parameters i.e., firm’s size, product type, export distribution method, export regularity, and export profit intensity; and d) The excess versus the lagging in satisfaction of users of export promotion programs, play an important role for motivating export managers for higher levels of export performance. The fifth article relates to Export Sales Management. The survey is based on fifty-two personal interviews with export managers of Cypriot exporting SMEs and on fourteen responses to e-mail questionnaires sent to Maltese SMEs included in an online directory. The article offers a contribution to the theories related to firms' export performance. Job satisfaction and behavioral and outcome performance of export managers have indeed received attention in export literature. However, the relationship between the export managers’ rewards system and the level of export managers’ morale with export managers’ job satisfaction, behavioral and outcome performance, and export sales units’ performance of small and medium-size enterprises has not been thoroughly examined, tested, or validated. A new model is developed based on export managerial psychology theory, which integrates two constructs, the export managers’ rewards and the level of morale, as critical variables affecting export performance. In specific countries i.e. Cyprus and Malta, the research findings suggest that four connected relationships in a Partial Least Squares model are positive, significant, and substantial. Particularly, managers’ financial and nonfinancial rewards influence the managers’ level of morale, which in turn affects managers’ behavioral performance, and managers' behavioral performance influences managers’ outcome performance, which, finally, impacts on firms’ export performance. Finally, the sixth article focuses on the value drivers of the unethical marketing behavior of exporters, as seen from the perspective of their importers, and how this in turn affects the quality of their working relationship and performance. Based on a sample of 189 Cypriot importers, the study revealed that similarities in national, corporate, and personal values between importers and their foreign suppliers are negatively related to unethical marketing practices of the latter as perceived by the former, and vice versa. Perceived export marketing unethicality, in turn, negatively influences the exporter-importer relationship quality (as expressed in terms of cooperation, communication, trust and commitment), which subsequently has harmful effects on the performance of the relationship. Exporting firms which adopt unethical marketing behavior eventually reduce their export performance while at the same time there is a negative impact on importers’ performance. The findings of the study have important implications for import managers in terms of properly selecting and handling relationships with their foreign suppliers.

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