Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 38, Issue 7, pp 1132–1148

Internationalising in small, incremental or larger steps?


DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400315

Cite this article as:
Barkema, H. & Drogendijk, R. J Int Bus Stud (2007) 38: 1132. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400315


We argue that companies may enter foreign environments either incrementally, as suggested by long-established theory, or by taking larger steps that may result in lower initial performance but, through learning and experience, lead to increased performance in future expansions. This idea is corroborated by the experience of Dutch companies entering into Central and Eastern Europe. We also find that expansion steps may be too large, thereby limiting the exploration of foreign environments. Our study suggests that sequential internationalisation strategies do still matter, and that companies have to balance exploitation and exploration in internationalisation.


internationalisationlearningcultural differencesexploitation and exploration

Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Organisation and Strategy, Tilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Management, London School of EconomicsLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Technology and Innovation Management, Rotterdam School of ManagementRotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Business Studies, Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden