MNE internationalization patterns, the roles of knowledge stocks, and the portfolio of MNE subsidiaries

Abstract

Learning and knowledge are crucial to the internationalization process of the firm. Johanson and Vahlne (1977, 2009) put gaining experience, i.e., learning and accumulating knowledge at the heart of their internationalization model. We posit that the IB field has perhaps moved too fast from conceptual work to quantitative empirical studies, not devoting sufficient attention to the idea of experiential learning, either conceptually or empirically. We look at the most cited internationalization studies to assess their theoretical and empirical contributions to experiential learning and knowledge stock accumulation and to the important role played by the portfolio of MNE subsidiaries as a knowledge source. We extend theory by carefully laying out how a growing portfolio of subsidiaries leads to accumulation of particular kinds of knowledge stocks, which can help with subsequent expansion moves. We show also how the concept of added distance supports this argumentation, thereby contributing to the theoretical and empirical work on the “further internationalizing” MNE.

Résumé

L’apprentissage et les connaissances sont cruciaux pour le processus d’internationalisation de la firme. Johanson et Vahlne (1977, 2009) mettent l’acquisition d’expériences, c’est-à-dire l’apprentissage et l’accumulation de connaissances au cœur de leur modèle d’internationalisation. Nous considérons que le champ de l’IB a peut-être évolué trop vite d’un travail conceptuel aux études empiriques quantitatives, n’accordant pas assez d’attention à l’idée d’apprentissage expérientiel, ni au niveau conceptuel ni au niveau empirique. Nous analysons les études les plus citées sur l’internationalisation pour évaluer leurs contributions théoriques et empiriques concernant l’apprentissage expérientiel et l’accumulation d’un stock de connaissances, et le rôle important joué par le portefeuille de filiales d’une FMN comme source de connaissances. Nous élargissons la théorie en montrant de manière détaillée comment un portefeuille croissant de filiales conduit à l’accumulation de certains types de stocks de connaissances qui peuvent aider les mouvements d’expansion ultérieurs. Nous montrons aussi comment le concept de distance ajoutée étaye cette argumentation, contribuant ainsi au travail théorique et empirique sur la FMN “poursuivant son internationalisation”.

Resumen

El aprendizaje y el conocimiento son cruciales en el proceso de internacionalización de una empresa. Johanson y Vahlne (1977, 2009) pusieron la experiencia adquirida, es decir, el aprendizaje y el conocimiento acumulado en el corazón de su modelo de internacionalización. Nosotros postulamos que el campo de los Negocios Internacionales se ha movido quizás muy rápido del trabajo conceptual a los estudios empíricos cuantitativos, no consagrando suficiente atención a la idea de aprendizaje experiencial, ya sea conceptualmente o empíricamente. Examinamos los estudios más citados sobre internacionalización para evaluar sus contribuciones teóricas y empíricas al aprendizaje experiencial y la acumulación de conocimiento existente y al importante papel que juegan los portafolios de las subsidiarias de las empresas multinacionales (EMN) como una fuente de conocimiento. Ampliamos la teoría exponiendo cuidadosamente como un aumento de portafolios de las subsidiarias lleva a la acumulación de tipos particulares de conocimientos acumulados, lo que puede ayudar con los movimientos de expansión subsecuentes. Demostramos también como el concepto de distancia agregada apoya esta argumentación, contribuyendo así al trabajo teórico y empírico sobre “avanzar la internacionalización” de las EMN.

Resumo

Aprendizagem e conhecimento são cruciais para o processo de internacionalização da firma. Johanson e Vahlne (1977, 2009) incluíram adquirir experiência, ou seja, aprender e acumular conhecimento no coração de seu modelo de internacionalização. Propomos que o campo de IB talvez tenha se movido muito rapidamente do trabalho conceitual para estudos empíricos quantitativos, não dedicando suficiente atenção à ideia de aprendizagem experiencial, seja de forma conceitual ou empírica. Analisamos os estudos de internacionalização mais citados para avaliar suas contribuições teóricas e empíricas para a aprendizagem experiencial e acumulação de conhecimento e para o importante papel desempenhado pelo portfólio de subsidiárias da MNE como fonte de conhecimento. Estendemos a teoria especificando cuidadosamente como uma crescente carteira de subsidiárias leva à acumulação de tipos específicos de conhecimento, que podem ajudar com subsequentes movimentos de expansão. Mostramos também como o conceito de distância adicionada apoia essa argumentação, contribuindo assim para o trabalho teórico e empírico sobre a MNE que se internacionaliza ainda mais.

概要

学习和知识对公司的国际化进程至关重要 Johanson和Vahlne(1977年, 2009年)将获得经验, 即学习和积累知识置于他们国际化模型的核心。我们认为, IB领域或许从理论工作到定量实证研究发展得太快,既没有在概念上也没有在实证上对体验式学习的观念给予足够的重视。我们研究被最多引用的国际化研究,评估它们对体验式学习和知识库存积累的理论和实证贡献,以及对跨国公司子公司组合作为知识来源所起的重要作用。我们拓展理论,仔细规划不断增长的子公司组合如何导致特定类型知识库的积累,从而有助于随后的拓展。我们还展示了附加距离的概念如何支持这一论证,从而有助于跨国企业“进一步国际化”的理论和实证工作。

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Acknowledgements

The authors are very grateful for extraordinary valuable comments and suggestions received from as well as outstanding developmental guidance throughout the review process by the JIBS Editor-in-Chief Alain Verbeke, which have significantly improved this article. The authors also thank JIBS Managing Editor Anne Hoekman for excellent service.

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Correspondence to Thomas Hutzschenreuter.

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

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Hutzschenreuter, T., Matt, T. MNE internationalization patterns, the roles of knowledge stocks, and the portfolio of MNE subsidiaries. J Int Bus Stud 48, 1131–1150 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-017-0105-9

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Keywords

  • internationalization
  • experiential learning
  • knowledge stock
  • subsidiary portfolio
  • MNE theory
  • added distance