This study investigates the relationship between selected managers’ attitudinal and cognitive aspects, proxied through observable demographic variables, and small and medium-sized enterprises’ export and economic performance. We argue that a manager’s positive attitude, vision, and commitment towards international business reflected in his/her level of global orientation (MGO) will positively influence various dimensions of the firm’s performance. We contend further that this impact is consistent in the long term and differs according to firm size and industry. Based on a sample of 271 manufacturers between 2005 and 2014 (2710 observations), empirical findings provide overall support for our arguments, showing that MGO is positively related to firms’ export intensity, scope and speed. Accordingly, firms whose managers have a higher MGO perform a more rapid first-time foreign market entry, they export to more countries, and they sell a higher percentage of their total turnover abroad. The level of MGO is also associated with some export-marketing outcomes, namely the creation of a network of sales partners and export planning. Finally, a higher MGO is also related to increases in overall profitability, particularly for smaller firms and for the Manufacturing and wholesale industry. The paper concludes with a discussion about managerial and public policy implications.
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