This paper explores the evolution of export barriers along the firm’s internationalization process. Based on a sample of 7,515 European SMEs, we investigate the differences perceived by different groups of firms: companies uninterested in exports, future exporters, pre-exporters, experimental exporters, involved exporters, active exporters, committed exporters and failed exporters. We study both external barriers (i.e. arising from the environment in home and foreign markets) and internal barriers (i.e. related to the company’s resource endowment, marketing and strategy). We find statistically significant differences between some of the studied groups, thus supporting the notion that the perception of internationalization barriers changes along the firm’s lifecycle.
Keywords: export barriers, internationalization process, SMEs, Europe.