Pre-Internationalization and Performance Conditions of First-Time Exporting SMEs

  • Pierre-Xavier Meschi Department of Strategy, Aix-Marseille Univ, CERGAM, IAE Aix-Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, France; and Department of Strategy, Skema Business School, Nice, France
  • Antonin Ricard Department of Strategy, Aix-Marseille Univ, CERGAM, IAE Aix-Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Ernesto Tapia Moore Department of Management, Kedge Business School, Marseille, France
Keywords: Aspiration-level performance model, Early internationalization, First-time exporting SME, Internationalization process, Late internationalization, Social and historical aspirations


This article aims to determine whether pre-internationalization conditions improve the performance of first-time exporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Two pre-internationalization conditions are discussed here: firm performance and age at internationalization. Building on the aspiration-level performance model of March and Shapira (1992) with sequential internationalization and international new-ventures approaches, this article develops two research hypotheses proposing an effective alignment with pre-internationalization performance and age at internationalization. These research hypotheses are examined using a panel database of 522 French SMEs that began export operations for the first time in 2014. The statistical results partially support our first hypothesis by showing that early-internationalizing SMEs with a lower performance relative to their peers significantly increase their post-internationalization performance. Contrary to what we predicted in our second hypothesis, we observe that late-internationalizing SMEs, which deliver a much higher performance than their historical aspirations, significantly reduce their post-internationalization performance.


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How to Cite
Meschi P.-X., Ricard A., & Tapia Moore E. (2021). Pre-Internationalization and Performance Conditions of First-Time Exporting SMEs. M@n@gement, 24(1), 31-43.
Original Research Articles