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The evolution of the international business field: a scientometric investigation of articles published in its premier journal

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Abstract

Macro-environmental trends such as technological changes, declining trade and investment barriers, and globalizing forces impacting both markets and production worldwide point to the heightened importance of international business (IB) and the relevance of IB research today. Despite this, a leading scholar has expressed concerns that the IB research agenda could be ‘running out of steam’ (Buckley, Journal of International Business Studies 33(2):365–373, 2002), prompting on-going introspection within the IB field. We contribute to this debate by investigating the evolution of the IB field through a scientometric examination of articles published in its premier journal, the Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS) from 1970 until 2008. We introduce a new analytical tool, Leximancer, to the fields of international business and scientometry. We show an evolution from an initial and extended emphasis on macro-environmental issues to a more recent focus on micro-economic, firm-level ones with the multinational enterprise (MNE) as an organizational form enduring throughout the entire period. We observe a field that has established a justifiable claim for relevance, participating actively in the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas.

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Notes

  1. Dymsza uses multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary interchangeably. Distinctions between the meaning of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary are not always clear.

  2. According to Garvey (1979, p. 84 in Hull, 1983, p. 315) “like most scientists, most editors have attitudes about what constitutes quality in their journal. These attitudes are influenced by their theoretical bias, their methodological preferences, etc., and they tend to select consulting editors and referees who share them.” However, as illustrated in Hull’s (1983) analysis of the evolution of Systematic Zoology under its different editorships, editors’ influences on the scope and content of a journal are moderated by a host of variables, including, for example, rejection rates and the general development of the discipline, including the ‘rhythm of scientific dispute’ (p. 339).

  3. Curiously, Chabowski and colleagues (2010) in a recent analysis of the evolution of JIBS’ social network did not identify an independent research cluster around ‘strategy’ in the latter periods of their analysis. We suspect that this is a consequence of their methodology, which was governed by the patterns of bibliometric mapping proceeding from a set of ‘most often cited papers’; the method employed here imposes no such restrictions.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful for the constructive comments made by the reviewers throughout the review process, and thank Dr. David Rooney, UQ Business School, The University of Queensland for his most useful assistance with Leximancer in the formative stages of this project.

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Correspondence to Peter W. Liesch.

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Liesch, P.W., Håkanson, L., McGaughey, S.L. et al. The evolution of the international business field: a scientometric investigation of articles published in its premier journal. Scientometrics 88, 17–42 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-011-0372-3

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