Explaining intermittent exporting: exit and conditional re-entry in export markets

Michele Bernini, Jun Du, James H. Love*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intermittent exporting is something of a puzzle. In theory, exporting represents a major commitment, and is often the starting point for further internationalisation. However, intermittent exporters exit and subsequently re-enter exporting, sometimes frequently. We develop a conceptual model to explain how firm characteristics and market conditions interact to affect the decision to exit and re-enter exporting, and model this process using an extensive dataset of French manufacturing firms from 1997 to 2007. As anticipated, smaller and less productive firms are more likely to exit exporting, and react more strongly to changes in both domestic and foreign markets than larger firms. Exit and re-entry are closely linked. Firms with a low exit probability also have a high likelihood of re-entry, and vice versa. However, the way in which firms react to market conditions at the time of exit matters greatly in determining the likelihood of re-entry: thus re-entry depends crucially on the strategic rationale for exit. Our analysis helps explain the opportunistic and intermittent exporting of (mainly) small firms, the demand conditions under which intermittent exporting is most likely to occur, and the firm attributes most likely to give rise to such behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1076
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number9
Early online date22 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41267-016-0015-2


  • export exit
  • export re-entry
  • intermittent exporting
  • re-internationalization


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