MERCATI E COMPETITIVITA n. 3/2016 SPECIAL ISSUE. Driving international business research forward: Emerging themes and insights

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1 MERCATI E COMPETITIVITA n. 3/2016 SPECIAL ISSUE Driving international business research forward: Emerging themes and insights The broad internationalization trend of the recent years, asks for significant changes within the International Business research, in terms of new issues, theories and paradigms. In order to shed light on emerging international phenomena, the question whether the traditional theories such as transaction cost economics, Dunning s eclectic theory, Hofstede s work-related values, the internationalization process, the resource-based view of the firm, and the knowledge-based view of the firm, can drive IB research forward, is crucial. Griffith et al suggest that scholars will: (1) see a continued application of extant theoretical perspectives to advance our understanding of traditional international business research areas; and (2) need to develop new theories to explain emerging international business phenomena. A large volume of research exists, but many problems remain unresolved. Take, for instance, transaction cost economics, which has become the most popular theoretical platform from which to study market entry mode. Williamson s theory does not include culture as a theoretical construct, and in its various applications culture has been conceived, when spelled out at all, by and large as a proxy for uncertainty. As consequence, emerging question is how firms should make entry mode decisions, based

2 on factors such as how differences between countries influence firm decisions, and how firms adapt to new country-specific circumstances (Brouthers, 2013). Factors such as host-market consumer/employee attitudes toward foreign firms and managers, and how specific management practices are perceived and whether they are acceptable or not in the host country (e.g., Kostova & Roth, 2002) have to be taken into account when looking at entry mode choice. The topic of FDI provided an excellent research opportunity for scholars in the past. Over the last two decades scholars have been focusing on the topic of international acquisitions, as the increase in foreign direct investment in industrialized countries since the mid-1980s has largely come about through M&As. The question of what determines the international success or failure of international acquisitions is yet under investigation to date. One obvious factor affecting the success of cross border acquisitions is cultural distance generally between MNEs from developed countries and the less-developed countries in which they invest. Emerging economies play a strategic role in the international context either as target country or as investor one. Similarly, research in the area underlying rationale, strategy, and organization of multinational enterprises has focused on a broad range of themes inclusive of learning, the influence of culture on organizational management strategy, and understanding cooperative strategies as opposed to control-oriented strategies. In addition, with the emergence of the information and communication age, business activity from production to knowledge creation has come to rely on internationally highly disaggregated and geographically dispersed value chains (Gereffi et al., 2005; Mudambi, 2007); and yet a continued centralization of certain functions (including R&D, marketing and finance), as well as control over subsidiary management and decision making. Flexibility, knowledge creation, collaboration and international connections, as well as the characteristics of the institutional contexts in which these expanded interorganizational relations are embedded (Aguilera, 2011) have become essential elements to be considered for the contemporary MNE.

3 In this scenario, SMEs are increasingly facing similar international problems as those of larger firms. For many SMEs, especially those operating in high-technology and manufacturing sectors (Crick D., Jones M. V., 2000), managing the challenges of early and/or accelerated internationalization in pursuing international opportunities is paramount. More generally, it is no longer possible to act in the marketplace without taking into account the risks and opportunities presented by foreign and/or global competition. With reference to the resource-based perspective, the internationalization can be defined as the process of mobilizing, accumulating, and developing resource stocks for international activities, regardless of the actual content of the international activities themselves. Although SMEs lack the size and resource advantages of large MNEs, they do not necessarily lack distinct resources or core competences enabling them to compete effectively abroad. This is particularly true for the firms of Made in Italy, very attractive due to their competitive strength which resides in the diversification of their products, their managerial and entrepreneurial governance styles, structure and flexibility, international development and effective niche strategies. Most of them may be classified under the umbrella of Italian style mainly appreciated in emerging countries. For them, as for MNEs, a global branding strategy that is the manner in which a firm selects, manages, and controls its brands across international markets (Chabowski, Samiee and Hult, 2013) is crucial. This strategy involves choices of brand adaptation, brand standardization, brand positioning (product, promotion, distribution, or pricing), brand/country origin (local or non-local), and brand conceptimage (functional, experiential, or symbolic). All these emerging themes are a way to answer to the big question posed by Peng (2004) of what determines the international success or failure of firms, that is yet the dominant issue of International Business research to date. An indicative, but not exhaustive, list of questions that this call for papers addresses is:

4 1) How can international SMEs leverage the dynamics of learning to upgrade their knowledge and network capabilities for achieving growth opportunities from early internationalization? In light of the international fragmentation of production systems and the geographical dispersion of the value chain, how are they capturing these opportunities to catch up and to shift their role in global supply/value chains? 2) What is the role of the cross border acquisitions from multinational enterprise (MNE) in international technology and knowledge transfer? What are the performance implications of international acquisitions? 3) What are the specific challenges facing managers when small or medium-sized firms go across national borders? 4) What processes are involved in the creation and capture of market opportunities abroad? What is the role in such processes of cultural distance, risk, uncertainty? 5) How can firms manage the country of origin in order to strengthen the global brand positioning in the foreign markets? How can COO affect international buyer-supplier relationships in terms of trust, commitment, and performance? What are the relationships between country image and market entry modes? 6) How can cultural distance affect entry choices? What is the impact of cultural distance on post acquisition integration stage? 7) How are firms managing the challenges of internationalization in and from emerging, rapid-growth and less-developed economies? 8) How do firms make entry mode decisions, how do they manage multifaceted portfolios including various forms of corporate partnering, external collaboration and non-equity forms across borders? 9) How do new digital technologies change sectoral boundaries (e.g. between manufacturing and non-manufacturing industries), deconstruct traditional industries, and stimulate the emergence of new sectors? How do changes in sectoral boundaries impact corporate diversification and stimulate new organizational forms to manage geographical dispersion?

5 10) How do firms select, manage, and control their brands across international markets? References Aguilera, R Interorganizational governance and global strategy. Global Strategy Journal, 1(1): Brouthers K.D. (2013). A retrospective on: Institutional, cultural and transaction cost influences on entry mode choice and performance, Journal of International Business Studies, 44(1): Chabowski B. R, Samiee S., and Hult GTM (2013). A bibliometric analysis of the global branding literature and a research agenda. Journal of International Business Studies, 44: Crick D., Jones, M. V. (2000). Small High-Technology Firms and International High-Technology Markets. Journal of International Marketing, 8(2): Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., & Sturgeon, T The governance of global value chains. Review of International Political Economy, 12: Griffith D.A., Cavusgil S.T., Xu S. (2008), Emerging themes in international business research, Journal of International Business Studies, 39(7): Kostova, T., & Roth, K Adoption of an organizational practice by subsidiaries of multinational corporations: Institutional and relational effects. Academy of Management Journal, 45(1): Maekelburger B., Schwens C., Kabst R. (2012), Asset specificity and foreign market entry mode choice of small and medium-sized enterprises: The moderating influence of knowledge safeguards and institutional Safeguards, Journal of International Business Studies,43(5): Mudambi, R Offshoring: Economic Geography and the Multinational Firm. Journal of International Business Studies, 38(1): 206. Peng, M. W Identifying the big question in international business research. Journal of International Business Studies, 35(2): Manuscript must follow submission guidelines of Mercati e Competività. Manuscripts for this special issue should be submitted to the Authors to a to the Guest editors by February 15 th, 2016.

6 Guest Editors: Giuseppe Bertoli University of Brescia Michela Matarazzo Università Marconi

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