Does improvisation help or hinder planning in determining export success? Decision theory applied to exporting

Exporting allows organizations to diversify risk and generate multiple income streams, which plays an important role in the viability of firms. In turn, making good export decisions is hailed as one of the main determinants of performance. However, substantive export decisions are well researched, but little is still known about how export decisions are/should be made in practice. This study addresses this gap using decision theory (normative and descriptive approaches). In particular, the interaction of planning and improvisation is assessed and its impact on export performance examined. A conceptual model was developed through exploratory research, tested through the use of structural equation modelling, and explained via post-hoc in-depth interviews (in three studies). The results indicate improvisation has multiple dimensions (spontaneity, creativity and action-orientation) and multiple consequences; that planning and improvisation both enhance performance through responsiveness, that action-orientation helps planning result in greater responsiveness, but that spontaneity and creativity can be harmful to the effectiveness of planning (in terms of responsiveness and financial performance). Results are discussed, contribution outlined, and further research proposed.