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Friday, 18 February 2011 10:44

CALL FOR PAPERS | Special Issue of the Journal of International Business Studies

Special Issue of the Journal of International Business Studies

Special Issue Editors

  • Ulf Andersson, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
  • Sjoerd Beugelsdijk, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
  • Ram Mudambi, Temple University, USA
  • Srilata Zaheer, University of Minnesota, USA

Deadline for submission: November 18, 2011

Tentative publication date: Spring 2013


Although the impact of the changing strategy of MNEs on global economic geography is beginning to receive attention in the literature, IB scholars’ understanding of space remains relatively underdeveloped (McCann and Mudambi, 2005).  The O (Ownership) and I (Internalization) dimensions of Dunning’s eclectic paradigm are relatively well understood compared to the L (Location) dimension.

Because of the historical role of national borders, location in IB is often conceptualized and operationalized as a country-specific characteristic. Spatial heterogeneity exists in IB to the extent that countries differ in terms of their cultural and institutional framework, level of economic development and availability of natural resources. The IB literature tends to view space in terms of distance between countries, relying on measures such as cultural distance, institutional distance, psychic distance, distance between country centers, and so on. Whereas for some of these types of distance, the country is appropriate unit of analysis, this is not necessarily true for all. For example, the international cultural distance between two Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden may well be smaller than that between two Indians, one from the Hindi-speaking North and the other from the Tamil-speaking South. Alternatively, to understand the role of geographic distance in the Canadian automotive supply chain by measuring the distance to the traditional industry cluster in Detroit would miss the emerging new automotive clusters in the American South where most non-US MNEs like Nissan, Toyota and BMW have located their assembly plants.

To improve our understanding of the spatial dimension of IB activity and the interaction of location with governance and organization aspects of MNE activity, we need to build on insights from economic and human geography and regional science. By integrating IB more closely with literatures that explicitly recognize the subtleties of geographic space, we push the frontiers of the field.  In the process, we make connections with the emerging literature in international strategy that emphasizes the importance of firm-level decision-making on geographical outcomes, insights that can advance the research frontiers of economic geography (Nachum and Zaheer, 2005; Shaver and Flyer, 2000; Alcacer and Chung, 2002). At the most fundamental level, this involves incorporating the impact of sub-national locations on decision-making and performance of multinational enterprises (MNEs). We contend that uniting the IB literature’s rich insights on the organization and governance of the MNE with the nuanced analysis of space in the economic geography literature offers great opportunities for advancing our understanding of both internationalizing firms and locations.

Topics for the Special Issue

We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions, and papers adopting either a single or multi level analysis. Illustrative topics are mentioned below:

  • The 'death of distance' and ‘spiky’ global innovation; some scholars have declared the globalized world to be flat, but at the same time the strategic and economic importance of geographically concentrated networks of firms has increased (e.g. Lahiri, 2010). Global connectedness is increasingly recognized as crucial determining the position of individual clusters in the global hierarchy (Cantwell and Janne, 1999; Meyer et al., 2011) and the success of firms within them. For MNEs, managing a portfolio of locations and serving as a key part of the “connective tissue” amongst clusters puts them in a powerful position. Equally, MNEs that fail to leverage their unique position may find themselves weaker in consequence. How does the increased importance of connectedness affect the traditional view in IB linking control to ownership given that connectedness does not necessarily coincide with ownership?
  • While there is a rich literature in IB on the MNE’s local embeddedness (e.g., Andersson et al., 2002), its spatial aspects are often simply assumed; they have rarely been distinguished or explored in an explicit manner.  Influential IB scholars have recently highlighted this lacuna (Dunning, 2009).  How is IB theory and practice affected when geographical co-location and embeddedness are disentangled?
  • From Ownership, Location and Internalization to Place, Space and Organization (PSO); within the OLI framework the role of transaction costs is crucial. In the core-periphery model the role of space, dominates. How does an interpretation of transaction costs along spatial dimensions (PSO) affect the predictions of the OLI framework?
  • Distance and the liability of foreignness; distance is conceptualized as a multidimensional construct mostly relating to inter-country characteristics. Is it meaningful to conceptualize distance as a multidimensional construct? Can we do a better job of disentangling these dimensions, in order to distinguish more clearly what is attributable to geographic distance, and what is attributable to cultural distance? E.g. the institutions of a place may depend partly on cultural characteristics, and partly on geographic issues such as resource availability, climate, proximity and relationship to other places etc. So papers that better compared and related the dimensions of distance in an IB setting might well prove foundational for other work to be done in this domain.
  • Economic geographers are concerned with firm location in general: why they start in certain places, why they tend to stick to those locations, why they sometimes move, why they expand by making investments in other locations and how they organize and co-ordinate their multi-locational activities.  Is the multinational firm simply a special case of a multi-locational firm?  How do the notions of place, space and organization bear on this question?
  • The role of the MNE in cluster formation; clusters are known to have life cycles. Whereas MNEs can play a catalyzing role in the start of a cluster and its further development, it is not clear how clusters and the (subsidiaries of) MNEs belonging to these clusters are affected when clusters are imploding or dissolving. Economic geography provides insights on cluster life cycles, and the questions arise relating to MNEs’ roles in these life cycles.  More specifically, MNEs improve the external connectivity of a cluster and we need to know more the implications of this connectivity for the development of the cluster.
  • Entry mode theory and spatial heterogeneity; entry mode theory is dominated by the role of transaction costs in determining the optimal governance structure. This theory and the associated empirical studies are in general space neutral. Economic geography has shown that transaction costs are not space neutral. How are the predictions made by entry mode theory affected when we incorporate the notion of spatial transaction costs?  Whereas country level institutional characteristics have been incorporated in entry mode studies, sub-national level spatial heterogeneity has so far been absent.
  • Spatial antecedents and consequences of geographical value chain disaggregation; as value chains are increasingly disaggregated into activities, projects and tasks, the internal networks of MNEs are becoming more open and increasingly decentralized. What does this likely imply for the international locational dispersion of activity across the full networks orchestrated by MNEs (which may include both 'internal' and 'external' elements if we define these purely in traditional ownership terms)? Conversely, what are the implications for locations of being relatively more (or less) conducive to more open kinds of firm networks locally, e.g. with respect to their IP regimes or other local institutional conditions?

In addition, we provide illustrative examples of some more general topic areas:

  • Local partners and geographic space; spatially proximate vs. spatially distant local partners;
  • The disaggregation of the value chain and the location of value creation;
  • Extra-organizational knowledge spillovers in industrial districts/clusters.

Submission process

All manuscripts will be reviewed as a cohort for this special issue. Manuscripts must be submitted in the window between November 1, 2011, and November 18, 2011, at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jibs. All submissions will go through the JIBS regular double-blind review process and follow the standard norms and processes.

For more information about this Call for Papers, please contact the Special Issue Editors or the JIBS Managing Editor (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Note: Please see full version at www.jibs.net for list of references cited in this call.

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