Economic crises have usually negative impacts on firms’ performance. Although management scholars have offered theoretical arguments and empirical evidence on the effects of economic crises on firms’ performance, several gaps still remain. In particular, there is a lack of evidence on the relationship between economic crises, firm size, level of internationalization and financial performance. Using data on the strategic behavior and performance of 59 Italian ceramic tile manufacturers located within the industry cluster of Modena and Reggio Emilia, over the 2005-2009 time period, this study shows that: 1) during a global economic crisis, the performance of mediumsized firms is less penalized than that of large and small rivals, 2) a global economic crisis negatively moderates the relationship between internationalization and performance, 3) during a global economic crisis, the internationalization of manufacturing activities positively moderates the internationalization of sales-performance relationship.
Keywords: Medium-sized firm, economic crisis, internationalization, performance.