The interplay of strategic orientations and their influence on SME performance
This paper examines the role that learning orientation plays with respect to entrepreneurial orientation, market orientation, and, ultimately, the performance of small and medium-sized enterprises SMEs. Previous research indicated mixed findings in regards to the relationship of these strategic orientations and firm performance. Instead of just direct influences to performance, we examine if learning orientation is an antecedent to market and entrepreneurial orientation. We suggest that in this way, their influence to SME performance would be more accurately predicted. We argue that learning orientation reflects the overall values of the organization, whereas entrepreneurial and market orientations are more action-oriented firm behaviors. Learning orientation would likely set the stage for the requisite actions implied in market and entrepreneurial orientation. Direct effect and mediated effects hypotheses between these strategic orientations are tested on a sample of SME manufacturing firms and their performance. Findings indicate that learning and entrepreneurial orientation directly influence SME performance. However, when learning orientation and its effects are mediated by market and entrepreneurial orientation, direct effects disappear when testing this model. The study offers insight into relationships between various strategic orientations, as to how and when they might influence SME performance.