Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 40, Issue 9, pp 1563–1580 | Cite as

The internalisation theory of the multinational enterprise: A review of the progress of a research agenda after 30 years

  • Peter J Buckley
  • Mark C Casson


This paper reviews the progress of the research agenda initiated by The Future of the Multinational Enterprise (1976). Focusing initially on the problem of explaining the existence of the multinational enterprise, the agenda soon broadened to encompass the analysis of alternative modes of foreign market entry, the role of international joint ventures, the impact of innovation on corporate growth, and the role of culture in international business. The core philosophy – based on the Coasian nature of the firm and on rational action modelling – has remained constant, while the widening range of applications has encouraged synthesis with theories developed in other fields of research. Success in answering any one question invariably generates new questions, which must in turn be answered through a further extension of the theory, and this dynamic continues to drive the development of the theory today. Internalisation theory has retained its validity and its vitality over the past 30 years, and is currently being extended into new fields of international business research.


internalisation theory globalisation market imperfections international business theory international political economy entrepreneurship business strategy 



We would like to thank Alain Verbeke and three anonymous referees for their insightful comments on earlier versions.


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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J Buckley
    • 1
  • Mark C Casson
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for International Business, Leeds University Business SchoolLeedsUK
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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