Abstract Entrepreneurial orientation has emerged as a major construct in entrepreneurship literature. However, existing definitions of entrepreneurial orientation mainly focus on explorative behavior like innovativeness, proactiveness, and risk-taking. Based on the long tradition of research on entrepreneurial functions, we argue that exploitative activities are no less an entrepreneurial endeavor than explorative activities. Following this understanding, we elaborate a broader conceptualization of the entrepreneurial orientation construct. In an empirical study with 346 established companies, we explore its effect on the performance of internationalization. Entrepreneurial orientation in its broader conceptualization positively influences the international performance and the effect is by far stronger than the one observed in existing studies. The reason for this is that both explorative and exploitative dimensions matter and equally drive the international performance. Entrepreneurial orientation positively influences the growth of the international activities as well. However, its effect is much lower. Whereas the explorative dimensions tend to foster the international growth, the exploitative dimensions do not show any effect.
Keywords: entrepreneurial orientation, entrepreneurial functions, international performance, international growth, exploration, exploitation.