The empirical link between export dispersion and export performance: A contingency-based approach

Practitioners and scholars point out that firms are increasingly dispersing their capabilities across organizational functions. However, it is not clear whether all forms of dispersion, of any function, result in the same consequences. This study initiates investigation into the link between the cross-functional dispersion of influence on export marketing decisions (export dispersion) and export performance. Drawing on data from a sample of 225 UK exporters, the findings support the argument that active participation of non-export functions in export-marketing decisions affects export success. However, those performance consequences are dependent on internal and external contingencies. Export dispersion is beneficial for export performance when the export customer environment is more turbulent and, simultaneously, the export technological environment is more stable and the firm has lower levels of export information sharing. In all other scenarios examined in this study, greater levels of concentration of export decision-making (i.e. lower levels of export dispersion) appear to be more beneficial for export performance. Our findings imply that the management of the firm's level of export dispersion is a complex task, whereby the degree of export dispersion pursued needs to match external environmental and internal firm factors.