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The effects of top management team composition on SME export performance: an upper echelons perspective

Survival of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increasingly depends on their ability to exploit opportunities in foreign markets. Given their limited resources, exporting is one of the most viable modes of entry into foreign markets for SMEs. The present study is an attempt to contribute to the research that identifies the factors associated with SME export performance. Specifically, the association between top management team demographic composition and SME export performance was examined in an emerging market context and drawing from upper echelons perspective. Focusing on such commonly examined upper echelons attributes as age, education level, and tenure, the present research assessed whether top management team composition distinguished between SMEs in terms of their export levels. Data were collected from 128 SMEs operating in Ankara and Bursa regions of Turkey. Results obtained by a hierarchical regression analysis indicated that SMEs with lower mean industry tenure and higher age separation diversity had higher levels of export performance.