Exporting enables organizations to diversify risk and generate multiple income streams. In turn, the ability to make good export decisions is purported to be a main determinant of performance. Although substantive export decisions are well researched, little is known about how export decisions should be made in practice and whether different decision-making approaches should be combined. This study addresses this gap using decision theory; the authors assess the interaction of planning and improvisation and examine the impact of these approaches on export responsiveness and export performance. They develop a conceptual model through exploratory research and test it through structural equation modeling. The authors seek insights into the results through post hoc in-depth interviews and conclude that improvisation has multiple dimensions (spontaneity, creativity, and action orientation) and that there is no one “best way” for export managers to make decisions. Furthermore, export planning can enhance economic performance but detract from customer performance. In addition, improvisation improves responsiveness, whereas action orientation leads to greater customer performance and results in greater responsiveness with regard to planning. However, export managers should be wary of spontaneity and creativity, because they detract from planning outcomes.
- Decision making
- Export performance