Keywords: export performance; customer orientation; resource-based view; Italian Smes.
The purpose of this study is to advance knowledge of export literature
on Italian Smes. Given the striking changes that the process of globalization
has brought to international markets, scholarly research has
highlighted that Italian Smes should adopt a customer orientation strategy
in order to increase their competitiveness. To date, very few studies
have tested whether those strategies viewed as success factors are actually
beneficial for the Italian Smes. A sample of senior managers of
small and medium-sized exporting firms in Italy is used to test the hypotheses.
Whilst confirming that customer orientation has a direct impact
on strategic performance, we show that customer orientation has
a negative effect on firms' financial performance. Our study shows that
technology intensity of products does not have a significant impact on
financial performance, but this link is mediated by strategic performance.
Finally, our results confirm that experienced managers of Smes
consider customer orientation a central element of their firm's export
strategy. Implications of these findings along with the limitations of the
study are discussed.