Antecedents to Differentiation Strategy in the Exporting SME

Gary Knight* (Corresponding Author), Oystein Moen, Tage Koed Madsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face various constraints related to size and resource base. Such firms face additional liabilities when they venture into foreign markets. Given such conditions, exporting SMEs should develop and leverage appropriate orientations and strategies, with a view to maximizing firm performance. In this paper, we examine the antecedents to differentiation strategy in the exporting SME. We focus on differentiation strategy because, among the generic strategies, it provides especially important competitive advantages to SMEs. Using survey data from several hundred SMEs, we examine key factors that support the use of differentiation strategy in exporting smaller firms. Findings support our model and hypotheses, and reveal strong roles for Entrepreneurial Orientation, International Growth Orientation, and International Learning Orientation, in the development of Differentiation Strategy. Findings hold implications for SMEs and resource-constrained firms generally.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101740
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Business Review
Issue number6
Early online date21 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • SMEs
  • Differentiation strategy
  • International performance
  • Empirical study


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