• Maryam Hemmati



Abstract. Managers form their mental models of a competitive environment, and differences in mental
models lead to different managerial decisions and performance levels for the firm. Despite the repeated requests of researchers in the literature, little is known about market actors’ mental models. On the other hand, considering the role of export in the economic growth and development of countries, researchers have begun to analyze emerging аnd developing markets in recent years. Thus, the present study aims to identify the mental model of export stimuli belonging to managers of Iranian firms active in the dairy industry. The contribution of this study is entering the theory of mental models into international marketing studies and explaining perceptual differences based on this theory. To this end, interviews with experts continued until saturation point using theoretical sampling. Based on the data resulting from semi-structured interviews analyzed using thematic analysis in MAXQDA, six mental models were identified among chief managers of 12 dairy firms: these models include government-based, benefit-based, firm-based, brand-based, manager-based, and environment-based. Results showed that government-, benefit-, and brand-based mental models are the most prominent models in this study, respectively. Moreover, the points raised in the government-based mental model refer to potential export stimuli, while the points raised in other mental models point to actual export stimuli.
Keywords: Mental model, Export stimuli, Export performance, Developing countries


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