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Inertia and Managerial Intentionality: Extending the Uppsala Model

Abstract

The Uppsala Internationalization Process Model is the most cited model within the field of international business. However, even with its most recent formulation, the model is predicated on a key set of assumptions about the limiting and releasing mechanisms in a ‘change of state’ decision. The model assumes that uncertainty, risk, lack of trust, and lack of awareness of opportunities are the main constraints, and that the accumulation of experiential knowledge, trust, and market commitment are the main releasing factors that allow a firm to overcome those constraints and progress to a higher state of commitment. We argue that the preceding view may be excessively narrow, and that inertia and managerial intentionality may also play a role as critical limiting and releasing mechanisms, respectively. This development implies that the passage of time and experiential learning may not always have a positive impact on firm internationalization. The extended model proposed in this paper highlights the role of the manager, and brings a contingent element to the model, thus broadening its applicability by providing new insights on issues typically considered outside the realm of the Uppsala model, such as rapidly internationalizing firms, regionalization, mode inertia and mode skipping.

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Notes

  1. As noted by one reviewer, the high citation count for the Johanson and Vahlne (1977) article may be due as much to the empirical observation of gradual internationalization as it is to the model explaining that pattern of behaviour. Nevertheless, the combination of the two represent the most cited paper in international business literature.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to dedicate this article to a dear friend and colleague, Professor Reijo Luostarinen, who recently passed away. Professor Luostarinen was one of the early pioneers on the issue of the internatonalization process of firms, and will be sadly missed. The authors would like to acknowledge the kind support and advice we have received from Associate Professor Catherine Welch of the University of Sydney throughout this project.

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Dow, D., Liesch, P. & Welch, L. Inertia and Managerial Intentionality: Extending the Uppsala Model. Manag Int Rev 58, 465–493 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11575-017-0340-0

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Keywords

  • Inertia
  • Managerial intentionality
  • Internationalization
  • Uppsala model