Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 540–561 | Cite as

Comparing capitalisms: understanding institutional diversity and its implications for international business

  • Gregory JacksonEmail author
  • Richard Deeg
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Part Special Issue: Institutions and International Business


This paper examines the role of institutional analysis within the field of international business (IB) studies. Within IB, institutions matter, but the view of institutions tends to be “thin”, utilizing summary indicators rather than detailed description, and thus approaches institutions as unidimensional “variables” that impact on particular facets of business activity. This paper argues that IB research would be usefully advanced by greater attention to comparing the topography of institutional landscapes and understanding their diversity. A number of alternative case-based approaches are outlined that draw on a growing “comparative capitalisms” literature in sociology and political science. The paper develops a number of empirical examples to show the utility and limits of these approaches for IB scholars.


comparative thinking case theoretic approaches institutional theory economic sociology business and society MNE–host country relations 



We thank Ruth Aguilera, Keith Brouthers, Tony Edwards, Anthony Ferner, Witold Henisz, Gary Herrigel, Mary O'Sullivan, Richard Whitley, and two anonymous reviewers for comments at various stages.


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© Academy of International Business 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ManagementKing's College LondonUK
  2. 2.Political Science DepartmentTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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