The management literature suggests that setting strategic goals facilitates the identification of appropriate business strategies and focuses management attention and available resources on their accomplishment, enabling subsequent goal realization. Yet the literature also indicates that firms often find it difficult to realize their strategic goals and may find it even more challenging to do so when operating in foreign markets. However, little is known empirically about the extent to which strategic goals enable desired strategic positions to be achieved and factors that may affect this relationship. We examine this important issue using primary data from a sample of exporting manufacturers. Results support the existence of previously theorized strategic goal–realized strategic position gaps and show that these negatively impact performance. Thus, simply setting strategic goals does not necessarily aid in accomplishing the desired outcomes, and any failure to do so is costly. Drawing on organization theory, we find that internal capabilities and knowledge, and external market factors play important roles in minimizing such strategic goal–realized strategic position gaps. Specifically, we show that businesses with stronger architectural capabilities, those with higher levels of internationalization, and those operating in less dynamic market environments are better able to realize their intended strategic objectives and thereby enjoy superior performance.