Symbolic uses of export information: implications for export performance
2011-05-20T08:30:35Z (GMT) by
As export competition becomes more intense and export success vital for survival (Katsikeas, 1994), so the effective processing and use of information regarding the international environment becomes a critical prerequisite for gaining competitive advantage (Leonidou and Theodosiou, 2004). Symbolic use of information is one type of information use, which although relatively underexplored to date, may be the most prevalent form of information use within organisations – especially in an export setting (Beyer and Trice, 1982). Symbolic use occurs when information is used for purposes other than the ones which led to its collection (Menon and Varadarajan, 1992). Symbolic use of information has been conceptualised as a multi-dimensional construct encompassing various dimensions (Vyas and Souchon, 2003). Examples include “exporters that engage in distorting market research findings, taking conclusions out of context, disclosing only the findings that confirm an executive‟s predetermined position or consciously ignoring information” (Toften and Olsen, 2004, p. 106). Symbolic use can also legitimate decisions reached on the basis of intuition or managerial assumptions (Vyas and Souchon, 2003). Although conceptual propositions of the potential relationship between each of the symbolic use dimensions and performance exist (Vyas and Souchon 2003), no empirical research has yet been undertaken. As a result, little is known about how and why symbolic use of export information may affect export performance, and under what circumstances. Furthermore, reliable and valid measures for each one of the symbolic use dimensions are absent in the literature. The purpose of this thesis is to fill in these research gaps. In so doing, a combination of both qualitative and quantitative methods is employed. The exploratory phase takes the form of in depth interviews with export decision makers in the UK. The data collected in this exploratory phase are analysed through the use of within-case and cross-case displays as per Miles and Huberman (1994) and are used not just for hypothesis development, but also to identify potential outcomes of using information symbolically in specific ways and to create pools of items for the development of measures of symbolic use. (Continues...).