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Towards a renaissance in international business research? Big questions, grand challenges, and the future of IB scholarship

Abstract

In this article, we review critiques of international business (IB) research with a focus on whether IB scholarship tackles “big questions.” We identify three major areas where IB scholars have addressed important global phenomena, but find that they have had little influence outside of IB, and only limited effects on business or government policy. We propose a redirection of IB research towards “grand challenges” in global business and the use of interdisciplinary research methods, multilevel approaches, and phenomena-driven perspectives to address those questions. We argue that IB can play a more constructive and vital role by tackling expansive topics at the business–societal interface.

Résumé

Dans cet article, nous analysons les critiques sur la recherche en international business (IB), en nous demandant plus précisément si les études en IB traitent les "grandes questions". Nous identifions trois domaines majeurs où les chercheurs en IB ont traité des phénomènes globaux importants, mais nous constatons qu'ils ont eu peu d'influence en dehors de l'IB et seulement des effets limités sur la politique des entreprises ou des gouvernements. Nous proposons une réorientation de la recherche en IB vers les "grands défis" de la gestion globale et l'utilisation de méthodes de recherche interdisciplinaires, d'approches multi-niveaux et de perspectives basées sur des phénomènes pour traiter ces questions. Nous avançons que l'IB peut jouer un rôle plus constructif et vital en abordant des thèmes étendus à l'interface de la gestion et de la société.

Resumen

En este artículo, revisamos las críticas a la investigación en negocios internacionales con un enfoque en sí los estudiosos de negocios internacionales abordan las “grandes preguntas.” Identificamos tres áreas principales en donde los académicos de negocios internacionales han abordado importantes fenómenos globales, pero encontramos que han tenido poca influencia fuera de negocios internacionales, y efectos limitados solamente a la política empresarial o gubernamental. Proponemos un re-direccionamiento de la investigación de negocios internacionales hacia los “grandes retos” en negocios globales y el uso de métodos de investigación interdisciplinarios, enfoques multinivel y perspectivas orientadas a los fenómenos para abordar estas preguntas. Sostenemos que negocios internacionales puede jugar un rol más constructivo y vital al abordar temas más amplios en la interfaz negocio-sociedad.

Resumo

Neste artigo, revemos as críticas à pesquisa sobre negócios internacionais (IB) que focam em saber se acadêmicos de IB abordam “grandes questões”. Identificamos três áreas principais em que acadêmicos de IB abordaram fenômenos globais importantes, mas descobrimos que tiveram pouca influência fora de IB e apenas limitados efeitos em políticas empresariais ou governamentais. Propomos um redirecionamento da pesquisa de IB para “grandes desafios” em negócios globais e o uso de métodos interdisciplinares de pesquisa, abordagens multinível e perspectivas orientadas a fenômenos para abordar essas questões. Argumentamos que o IB pode desempenhar um papel mais construtivo e vital abordando tópicos expansivos na interface empresa-sociedade.

摘要

在这篇文章中, 我们回顾了对国际商务(IB)研究的批评, 重点看IB学术界是否在解决“大问题”。我们确定了IB学者研究重大全球现象的三个主要领域, 但发现它们在IB以外影响力不大, 对商业或政府政策的影响有限。我们提出将IB研究重新转向到全球商业中的“大挑战”, 以及使用跨学科研究方法, 多层次方法和现象驱动的视角来解决这些问题。我们认为, IB可以通过在商业-社会界面研讨广泛的话题, 发挥更有建设性和至关重要的作用。

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Acknowledgements

We thank Jeremy Clegg and Heinz Tuselmann, JIBS Editor-in-Chief Alain Verbeke, and two anonymous reviewers for comments and feedback on earlier versions of this article. We also thank Fleur Peltenburg for research assistance. Any errors remain our own.

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Correspondence to Jonathan P Doh.

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Accepted by Alain Verbeke, Editor-in-Chief, 20 July 2017. This article has been with the authors for three revisions and was single-blind reviewed.

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Buckley, P.J., Doh, J.P. & Benischke, M.H. Towards a renaissance in international business research? Big questions, grand challenges, and the future of IB scholarship. J Int Bus Stud 48, 1045–1064 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-017-0102-z

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Keywords

  • evaluation of current theories
  • international business theory
  • MNEs and economic growth
  • institutional environment