Comparing capitalisms and taking institutional context seriously

Abstract

A major limitation of existing international business (IB) research remains the rather thin view of institutional context. In this retrospective, we reflect upon and highlight different strategies for overcoming de-contextualized perspectives and developing thicker conceptions of institutions drawing on comparative research. Institutions shape firm behavior not only through their direct or additive effects, but have more complex influences by moderating relationships between firm-level variables or having interactive or configurational effects related to wider sets of institutions. These views can each be extended by adopting a dynamic perspective examining how multinational enterprise (MNE) agency contributes to processes of institutional change. Ultimately, a large gap remains in taking institutions seriously that IB scholars could fill by developing middle-range theories that link and compare how particular kinds of institutions or institutional configurations influence particular kinds of MNE activities.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the JIBS Decade Award Selection Committee, Keith D. Brouthers, J. T. Li, and Sarianna Lundan, for acknowledging our past paper and creating this opportunity to reflect on this topic. We would also like to thank JIBS Editor-in-Chief Alain Verbeke for his support, as well as Helena Botto, Tony Edwards, Gerhard Schnyder and Matt Vidal for useful comments and discussion. The anonymous reviewers as well as those present during the award session at AIB Minnesota also provided very valuable comments. Special thanks also go to Witold Henisz (action editor) for guiding our 2008 paper through the revision process with very insightful suggestions.

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Correspondence to Gregory Jackson.

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Accepted by Alain Verbeke, Editor-in-Chief, 6 December 2018. This article has been with the authors for one revision and was single-blind reviewed.

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Jackson, G., Deeg, R. Comparing capitalisms and taking institutional context seriously. J Int Bus Stud 50, 4–19 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-018-0206-0

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Keywords

  • comparative thinking
  • qualitative/quantitative comparisons
  • institutional theory
  • capitalism
  • comparative management
  • comparative organizational studies
  • Decade Award