Internationalization as an evolutionary process

Grazia D. Santangelo (First Author), Klaus E. Meyer (Participant Author)

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    70 Citations (Web of Science)


    The Johanson and Vahlne model of internationalization has been the main foundation of process research in international business since 1977. This model, also known as the Uppsala model, provides a useful general framework for interpreting firm-level processes increasing (and occasionally decreasing) resources committed to international operations. However, the model does not provide theoretical explanations of non-linear and discontinuous dynamics of the process over time, nor does it offer testable propositions. We focus on the longitudinal dimension of internationalization, specifically path-breaking commitments that increase a firm’s exposure to risk. On this basis, we examine the idea that the IP model represents an evolutionary process. By emphasizing the role of novelty and introducing selection mechanisms, we explain non-linear and discontinuous dynamics of internationalization processes. Path-breaking resource commitments create novelty and deviate from a gradual path of growth as firms take higher risks, and hence face more intensive selection pressures. In consequence, firms are more likely to experience outstanding performance – but are also more likely to experience failure. This variation of outcomes is moderated by the resources a firm can draw upon in its ecosystem and by the volatility of its environment. Based on these ideas, we develop testable propositions to advance the internationalization process model. Johanson和Vahlne的国际化模型自1977年以来一直是国际商务过程研究的主要基础。这个模式,也称为乌普萨拉模型,为解释公司层面过程增加(并有时减少)承诺于国际运营的资源提供了一个有用的通用框架。然而,该模型并没有提供对随时间过程的非线性和不连续动态性的理论解释,也不提供可测试的命题。我们专注于国际化的纵向维度,特别是增加公司风险暴露的突破性承诺。在此基础上,我们研究了IP模型代表进化过程的观点。通过强调新颖性的作用和引入选择机制,我们解释了国际化过程非线性的和不连续的动态性。当公司面对更高风险的时候,突破性的资源承诺创造新颖性并偏离逐渐成长道路,因而面临更强的选择压力。因此,公司更有可能体验出色的表现 – 但也更有可能会遭遇失败。这种结果的变化受到公司在其生态系统可用资源以及其环境波动性的调节。基于这些想法,我们开发了可测试的命题来改进国际化过程模型。
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1114-1130
    JournalJournal of International Business Studies
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Corresponding author email


    • evolutionary theory
    • internationalization process model
    • non-linear and discontinuous dynamics

    Indexed by

    • FT
    • ABDC-A*
    • Scopus
    • SSCI


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