Economic downturn can either create opportunities or difficult threats for small and medium sized enterprises. Managerial perceptions act as environmental interpretations and influence the strategies that are implemented during recessions and other difficult situations. In any scenario, they affect organizational performance. This paper investigates the interactions between managerial cognition of an economic recession, the response strategy chosen and the consequences for firm performance amongst foreign SMEs operating in Romania across 12 industries. We consider both managerial and organisational antecedents for organisational performance.