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Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 496–522 | Cite as

Innovation and internationalisation processes of firms with new-to-the-world technologies

  • Alexandra Kriz
  • Catherine Welch
Article

Abstract

While there has been considerable research into the internationalisation of high-technology firms, it mostly assumes that these firms are pursuing global opportunities for technologies which are ready to be sold. This assumption does not hold for firms with ‘new-to-the-world’ technologies still under development. We investigate the internationalisation patterns of such firms by means of a qualitative case study. Our findings show the internationalisation patterns of the case firms to be uneven and discontinuous in nature. We attribute these patterns to the dialectical tensions which decision-makers confront between expanding internationally and developing their technologies. The nature and duration of the uncertainty inherent to bringing new-to-the-world technologies to global markets explains why tensions between innovation and internationalisation dominated, rather than synergies. In these conditions of fundamental uncertainty, the case firms were unable to benefit from the positive, self-reinforcing learning mechanism that underlies both the Uppsala internationalisation process model and the accelerated (early and rapid) internationalisation postulate. Instead, the dialectical process model which we develop recognises the socio-technical nature of technology, the impact of fundamental uncertainty, and the need to account for nonlinearity and interdependencies in the internationalisation process.

Keywords

case theoretic approaches innovation and R&D internationalisation small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) internationalisation theories and foreign market entry 

Résumé

Alors que la recherche sur l’internationalisation des firmes de haute technologie est importante, elle suppose souvent que ces firmes poursuivent des opportunités globales pour les technologies qui sont déjà vendues. Cette hypothèse ne vaut pas pour les firmes avec des technologies « nouvelles pour le monde » encore en développement. Nous étudions les modèles d’internationalisation de ces firmes par le biais d’études de cas qualitatives. Nos résultats montrent que les modèles d’internationalisation des entreprises étudiées sont par nature inégaux et discontinus. Nous imputons ces modèles aux tensions dialectiques, entre l’expansion internationale et le développement des technologies, auxquelles les décideurs sont confrontés. La nature et la durée de l’incertitude inhérente à l’introduction de technologies « nouvelles pour le monde » sur les marchés globaux expliquent pourquoi les tensions, plutôt que les synergies, entre innovation et internationalisation sont dominantes. Dans ces conditions d’incertitude fondamentale, les entreprises étudiées ont été incapables de bénéficier du mécanisme positif, auto-renforçant, d’apprentissage qui est sous-jacent à la fois au modèle du processus d’internationalisation d’Uppsala et au postulat d’internationalisation accélérée (précoce et rapide). Au contraire, le modèle du processus dialectique que nous développons reconnaît la nature sociotechnique de la technologie, l’impact de l’incertitude fondamentale et le besoin de prendre en compte la non-linéarité et les interdépendances dans le processus d’internationalisation.

Resumen

Aunque ha habido una considerable investigación sobre la internacionalización de las empresas de alta tecnología, esta principalmente asume que estas empresas están buscando oportunidades globales de tecnología que están lista para ser vendidas. Esta suposición no es válida para las empresas con tecnologías “nuevas en el mundo” aún en desarrollo. Investigamos los patrones de internacionalización de estas empresas mediante un estudio de caso cualitativo. Nuestros hallazgos muestran que los patrones de internacionalización en empresas de casos son desiguales y discontinuos por naturaleza. Atribuimos estos patrones a las tensiones dialécticas a las cuales los tomadores de decisión se enfrentan entre expandirse internacionalmente o desarrollar sus tecnologías. La naturaleza y la duración de la incertidumbre inherente a introducir tecnologías nuevas en el mundo a los mercados globales explica el por qué dominaron las tensiones entre la innovación y la internacionalización, en lugar de sinergias. En estas condiciones de incertidumbre fundamental, las empresas del estudio son incapaces de beneficiarse del mecanismo del aprendizaje positivo y auto-reforzado que subyace en el modelo de proceso de internacionalización de Uppsala y el postulado de internacionalización acelerada (temprana y rápida). En su lugar, el modelo del proceso dialéctico que desarrollamos reconoce la naturaleza sociotécnica de la tecnología, el impacto de la incertidumbre fundamental, y la necesidad de tener en cuenta lo no lineal y las interdependencias en el proceso de internacionalización.

Resumo

Embora tenham sido realizadas consideráveis pesquisas sobre a internacionalização de empresas de alta tecnologia, elas em sua maioria supõem que essas empresas estão buscando oportunidades globais para tecnologias que estão prontas para serem comercializadas. Essa suposição não é válida para empresas com tecnologias “novas para o mundo” ainda em desenvolvimento. Nós investigamos os padrões de internacionalização dessas empresas por meio de um estudo de caso qualitativo. Nossas descobertas mostram que os padrões de internacionalização das empresas dos casos são de natureza desigual e descontínua. Atribuímos esses padrões às tensões dialéticas que os decisores enfrentam entre a expansão internacional e o desenvolvimento de suas tecnologias. A natureza e a duração da incerteza inerente a trazer tecnologias novas para o mundo para os mercados globais explicam por que as tensões entre inovação e internacionalização dominaram, e não as sinergias. Nessas condições de incerteza fundamental, as firmas dos casos não conseguiram se beneficiar do mecanismo de aprendizagem positivo e auto-reforçado que está subjacente ao modelo de processo de internacionalização de Uppsala e ao acelerado (inicial e rápido) postulado de internacionalização. Em vez disso, o modelo de processo dialético que desenvolvemos reconhece a natureza sócio-técnica da tecnologia, o impacto da incerteza fundamental e a necessidade de considerar a não-linearidade e as interdependências no processo de internacionalização.

概要

对高科技公司的国际化虽然有大量的研究,但大多数都假设这些公司正在为准备出售的技术寻找全球的机会。这一假设并不适用于仍在开发“对世界全新的”技术公司。我们通过定性案例研究来调查这些公司的国际化模式。我们的研究结果显示,案例公司国际化模式本质上是不均衡的和不连续的。我们将这些模式归因于决策者在国际拓展和技术开发之间所面临的辩证关系。将对世界全新的技术引入全球市场所固有的不确定性的性质和持续时间解释了为什么创新和国际化之间的紧张关系,而不是协同效应,占主导地位。在这些极端不确定性的情况下,案例公司无法从乌普萨拉国际化过程模型和加速(早期和快速)国际化假设背后的积极而自我强化的学习机制中受益。相反,我们开发的辩证过程模型认识到技术的社会技术本质,极端不确定性的影响,以及解释国际化过程中非线性和相互依赖性的必要性。

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Niina Nummela and her international business group at the Turku School of Economics for welcoming us for a visit in 2015, and where we were able to complete much of the data analysis. We are also grateful for suggestions and feedback from our colleagues at the University of Sydney, particularly Bo Nielsen and Ian Wilkinson. Maria Rumyantseva’s skills and time were invaluable in helping us improve our visuals. The guidance and wisdom of the special issue editors have contributed significantly to improving our ideas. A special thank you is due to David Anstice, whose passion for understanding the intersection of internationalisation and innovation set us on this path of inquiry. Above all, we warmly thank CSIRO’s commercialisation team and all the participants in our study, without whose generosity in sharing their experiences and reflections this study would not have been possible.

Supplementary material

41267_2018_147_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 24 kb)

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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Queensland Business SchoolBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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