Skip to main content

Managing cultural specificity and cultural embeddedness when internationalizing: Cultural strategies of Japanese craft firms

Abstract

When entering international markets, manufacturers of consumer products are expected to adapt their products in order to meet local consumption practices. Doing so is particularly challenging for producers of culturally-specific products—that is, products that are little known, understood, or valued outside their original cultural milieu—whose operations are often deeply embedded in local conventions and traditions. To examine how SMEs navigate tensions between the cultural specificity of products and the cultural embeddedness of operations when expanding internationally, we conducted a multiple case study of Japanese producers of heritage craft located in Kyoto. Our findings reveal three strategies available to address these tensions—namely, selective targeting, cultural adaptation, and cultural transposition—and highlight the pivotal role played by local distributors and foreign designers, serving as cultural intermediaries, in bridging systems of domestic and foreign cultural practices and meanings. Our findings portray product adaptation as an ongoing process that unfolds along with a firm’s international expansion, as producers and intermediaries explore ways to bridge cultural differences. They illuminate the lengthy processes of learning and unlearning, adjusting, and rethinking that underlie managers’ efforts to strike a balance between standardization and adaptation as they internationalize.

Resume

Lors de leur entrée sur les marchés internationaux, les fabricants de produits de consommation devraient adapter leurs produits afin de répondre aux pratiques de consommation locales. Cela est particulièrement difficile pour les producteurs de produits culturellement spécifiques - c’est-à-dire des produits peu connus, compris et valorisés en dehors de leur milieu culturel d’origine - dont les opérations sont souvent profondément ancrées dans les conventions et traditions locales. Pour examiner comment les PME gèrent les tensions entre la spécificité culturelle des produits et l’ancrage culturel des opérations lors de leur expansion internationale, nous avons mené une étude de cas multiple sur les producteurs japonais d’artisanat du patrimoine situés à Kyoto. Nos résultats révèlent trois stratégies disponibles pour faire face à ces tensions, - à savoir, le ciblage sélectif, l’adaptation culturelle et la transposition culturelle - et mettent en évidence le rôle central joué par les distributeurs locaux et les designers étrangers, servant d’intermédiaires culturels, pour combler les pratiques et les systèmes de signification culturels nationaux et étrangers. Nos résultats décrivent l’adaptation des produits comme un processus continu qui se déroule parallèlement à l’expansion internationale d’une entreprise, alors que les producteurs et les intermédiaires explorent les moyens de combler les différences culturelles. Ils mettent en lumière le long processus d’apprentissage et de désapprentissage, d’ajustement et de reconception qui sous-tend les efforts des dirigeants pour trouver un équilibre entre la standardisation et l’adaptation à mesure qu’ils s’internationalisent.

Resumen

Al entrar a los mercados internacionales, se espera que los fabricantes de productos de consumo adapten sus productos para cumplir con las prácticas de consumo locales. Al hacerlo es particularmente desafiante para los productores de productos específicos a una cultura - es decir, productos poco conocidos, entendidos y valorados fuera de su entorno cultural original- cuyas operaciones con frecuencia están profundamente incrustadas en las convenciones y tradiciones locales. Para examinar cómo las PYME navegan por las tensiones entre la especificidad cultural de los productos y la integración cultural de las operaciones cuando se expanden internacionalmente, realizamos un estudio de caso múltiple de los productores japoneses de artesanías patrimoniales ubicadas en Kioto. Nuestros hallazgos revelan tres estrategias disponibles para abordar estas tensiones -en concreto, la focalización selectiva, la adaptación cultural y la transposición cultural- y resaltando el papel primordial desempeñado por los distribuidores locales y los diseñadores extranjeros, que sirven como intermediarios culturales, haciendo puentes entre las prácticas y los sistemas de significado nacionales y extranjeros. Nuestros hallazgos describen la adaptación de productos como un proceso continuo que se despliega junto con la expansión internacional de una empresa, mientras los productores e intermediarios exploran maneras hacer puentes entre las diferencias culturales. Iluminan el largo proceso de aprendizaje y desaprendizaje, ajustando y repensando los esfuerzos que subyace en los gerentes para lograr un equilibrio entre la estandarización y la adaptación a medida que se internacionalizan.

Resumo

Ao entrar em mercados internacionais, espera-se que fabricantes de produtos de consumo adaptem seus produtos para atender práticas locais de consumo. Fazer isso é particularmente desafiador para produtores de produtos culturalmente específicos – isto é, produtos pouco conhecidos, compreendidos e valorizados fora de seu ambiente cultural original - cujas operações costumam estar profundamente enraizadas em convenções e tradições locais. Para examinar como SMEs navegam tensões entre especificidade cultural de produtos e a incorporação cultural das operações ao expandir internacionalmente, realizamos um estudo de caso múltiplo de produtores japoneses de artesanato tradicionais localizado em Kyoto. Nossas descobertas revelam três estratégias disponíveis para lidar com essas tensões - a saber, direcionamento seletivo, adaptação cultural e transposição cultural - e destacam o papel central desempenhado pelos distribuidores locais e designers estrangeiros, servindo como intermediários culturais, ao conectar práticas culturais nacionais e estrangeiras e sistemas de significados. Nossas descobertas retratam adaptação de produto como um processo contínuo que se desenvolve junto com a expansão internacional de uma empresa, à medida que produtores e intermediários exploram formas de conectar diferenças culturais. Elas iluminam o longo processo de aprender e desaprender, ajustar e repensar, que subsiste nos esforços dos gerentes para encontrar um equilíbrio entre padronização e adaptação ao se internacionalizam.

摘要

当进入国际市场时, 消费品制造商预计会让他们的产品去适应市场, 以满足当地消费行为。这样做对那些通常嵌入当地惯例和传统中运营的特定文化产品的生产商(即那些在其原始文化环境之外鲜为人知、理解和重视的产品)尤其具有挑战性。为了研究中小企业如何驾驭产品的文化特殊性与国际扩张时运营的文化嵌入之间的紧张关系, 我们进行了京都传统工艺日本制造商的多案例研究。我们的研究结果揭示了可用来解决紧张关系的三大策略, 即选择性靶标、文化适应和文化换位, 并强调了当地经销商和国外设计师作为文化中介在连接国内外文化实践和含义系统中所发挥的关键作用。我们的研究结果将产品适应描绘为当生产商和中介探寻如何弥合文化差异的途径时随着公司国际扩张而展开的一个持续的过程。 他们阐明了经理人在国际化时实现标准化和适应之间的平衡所做努力背后的漫长的学习与忘却、调整与反思的过程。

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Aldrich, H., & Auster, E. R. 1986. Even dwarfs started small: Liabilities of age and size and their strategic implications. Research in Organizational Behavior, 8: 165–198.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arikan, I., Koparan, I., Arikan, A. M. & Shenkar, O., 2019. Dynamic capabilities and internationalization of authentic firms: Role of heritage assets, administrative heritage, and signature processes. Journal of International Business Studies. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-019-00261-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Asakawa, K., Ito, K., Rose, E. L., & Westney, D. E. 2013. Internationalization in Japan’s service industries. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 30(4): 1155–1168.

    Google Scholar 

  • Balabanis, G. I. 2000. Factors affecting export intermediaries’ service offerings: The British example. Journal of International Business Studies, 31(1): 83–99.

    Google Scholar 

  • Benjamin, M. 1994. Handicraft exports: Some suggestions for successful marketing. In International Trade Forum (No. 2, p. 16). International Trade Centre.

  • Bertacchini, E. E., & Borrione, P. 2013. The geography of the Italian creative economy: The special role of the design and craft-based industries. Regional Studies, 47(2): 135–147.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beverland, M. 2004. Uncovering “theories-in-use”: Building luxury wine brands. European Journal of Marketing, 38(3/4): 446–466.

    Google Scholar 

  • Birnik, A., & Bowman, C. 2007. Marketing mix standardization in multinational corporations: A review of the evidence. International Journal of Management Reviews, 9(4): 303–324.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blundel, R., & Smith, D. J. 2013. Re-inventing artisanal knowledge and practice: A critical review of innovation in a craft-based industry. Prometheus, 31: 55–73.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bourdieu, P. 1984. Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brannen, M. Y. 2004. When Mickey loses face: Recontextualization, semantic fit, and the semiotics of foreignness. Academy of Management Review, 29(4): 593–616.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buzzell, R. D. 1968. Can you standardise multinational marketing? Harvard Business Review, 46(6): 102–113.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cavusgil, S. T., & Zou, S. 1994. Marketing strategy-performance relationship: an investigation of the empirical link in export market ventures. Journal of Marketing, 58(1): 1–21.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cavusgil, S. T., Zou, S., & Naidu, G. M. 1993. Product and promotion adaptation in export ventures: An empirical investigation. Journal of International Business Studies, 24(3): 479–506.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chung, H. F. 2003. International standardization strategies: The experiences of Australian and New Zealand firms operating in the greater China markets. Journal of International Marketing, 11(3): 48–82.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dacin, M. T., Ventresca, M. J., & Beal, B. D. 1999. The embeddedness of organizations: Dialogue & directions. Journal of Management, 25(3): 317–356.

    Google Scholar 

  • De Mooij, M. 2019. Consumer behavior and culture: Consequences for global marketing and advertising. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • De Noble, A. F., Castaldi R. M. & Moliver, D. M. 1989. Export Intermediaries: Small Business Perceptions of Services and Performance, Journal of Small Business Management, 27(2): 33–41.

    Google Scholar 

  • Delmestri, G., & Wezel, F. C. 2011. Breaking the wave: The contested legitimation of an alien organizational form. Journal of International Business Studies, 42(6): 828–852.

    Google Scholar 

  • Denzin, N. K. (1978). Triangulation: A case for methodological evaluation and combination. In Denzin, N. K. (Ed.), Sociological Methods (2nd ed., pp. 339–357). New York: McGraw-Hill.

  • Douglas, S. P., & Wind, Y. 1987. The myth of globalisation. Columbia Journal of World Business, 22(4): 19–30.

    Google Scholar 

  • Doz, Y. L., Bartlett, C. A., & Prahalad, C. K. 1981. Global competitive pressures and host country demands managing tensions in MNCs. California Management Review, 23(3): 63–74.

    Google Scholar 

  • Du Gay, P., Hall, S., Janes, L., Madsen, A. K., Mackay, H., & Negus, K. 1997. Doing cultural studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman. London: Sage.

  • Eckhardt, G. M., & Mahi, H. 2004. The role of consumer agency in the globalization process in emerging markets. Journal of Macromarketing, 24(2): 136–146.

    Google Scholar 

  • Evans, J., Mavondo, F. T., & Bridson, K. 2008. Psychic distance: Antecedents, retail strategy implications and performance outcomes. Journal of International Marketing, 16(2): 32–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fan, T. P. C., & Tan, A. T. L. 2015. How product attributes influence internationalization: A framework of domain-and culture-specificity. Management International Review, 55(1): 53–76.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fitjar, R. D., & Jøsendal, K. 2016. Hooked up to the international artistic community: External linkages, absorptive capacity and exporting by small creative firms. Creative Industries Journal, 9(1): 29–46.

    Google Scholar 

  • Francisco, S. 2007. The way we do things around here specification versus craft culture in the history of building. American Behavioral Scientist, 50(7): 970–988.

    Google Scholar 

  • Friedman, R. 1986. The psychological meaning of products: A simplification of standardization versus adaptation debate. Columbia Journal of World Business, 21: 97–104.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fuchs, M., & Köstner, M. 2016. Antecedents and consequences of firm’s export marketing strategy: An empirical study of Austrian SMEs (a contingency perspective). Management Research Review, 39(3): 329–355.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ger, G., & Csaba, F. F. 2000. Flying carpets: The production and consumption of tradition and mystique. In Hoch, S. J. & Meyer, R. J. (Eds), NAAdvances in Consumer Research (Vol 27, pp. 132–137). Provo, UT, Association for Consumer Research.

  • Giddens, A. 1984. The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. California: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Glaser, B. G., & Strauss A. L. 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine De Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goerzen, A., & Makino, S. 2007. Multinational corporation internationalization in the service sector: A study of Japanese trading companies. Journal of International Business Studies, 38(7): 1149–1169.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grazzi, M., & Tomasi, C. 2016. Indirect exporters and importers. Review of World Economics, 152(2): 251–281.

    Google Scholar 

  • Guy, K. M. 2002. When Champagne Became French: Wine and the Making of a National Identity. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • He, J., & Wang, C. L. 2017. How global brands incorporating local cultural elements increase consumer purchase likelihood. International Marketing Review, 34(4): 463–479.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hennart, J. F., Majocchi, A., & Forlani, E. 2019. The myth of the stay-at-home family firm: How family-managed SMEs can overcome their internationalization limitations. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(5): 758–782.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hirsch, P. M. 1972. Processing fads and fashions: An organization-set analysis of cultural industry systems. American Journal of Sociology, 77(4): 639–659.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hollender, L., Zapkau, F. B., & Schwens, C. 2017. SME foreign market entry mode choice and foreign venture performance: The moderating effect of international experience and product adaptation. International Business Review, 26(2): 250–263.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jain, S. C. 1989. Standardization of international marketing strategy: some research hypotheses. Journal of Marketing, 53(1): 70–79.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jakubanecs, A., & Supphellen, M. 2016. Cultural embeddedness of products: A new measurement of culture and its effects. International Journal of Market Research, 58(2): 4.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jenkins, J. G. 1978. Traditional Coutry Craftsmen. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jonsson, A., & Foss, N. J. 2011. International expansion through flexible replication: Learning from the internationalization experience of IKEA. Journal of International Business Studies, 42(9): 1079–1102.

    Google Scholar 

  • Katsikeas, C. S., Samiee, S., & Theodosiou, M. 2006. Strategy fit and performance consequences of international marketing standardization. Strategic Management Journal, 27(9): 867–890.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kida, T., & Takayama, C. 2010. “Traditional art crafts (Dentō Kōgei)” in Japan: From reproductions to original works. The Journal of Modern Craft, 3(1): 19–35.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, H., & Jensen, M. 2014. Audience heterogeneity and the effectiveness of market signals: How to overcome liabilities of foreignness in film exports? Academy of Management Journal, 57(5): 1360–1384.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kostova, T., Marano, V., & Tallman, S. 2016. Headquarters–subsidiary relationships in MNCs: Fifty years of evolving research. Journal of World Business, 51(1): 176–184.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kroezen, J. J., & Heugens, P. P. 2019. What is dead may never die: Institutional regeneration through logic reemergence in Dutch beer brewing. Administrative Science Quarterly, 64(4): 976–1019.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kyoto City Traditional Industry Activation Promotion Plan. 2018. [第3期 京都市伝統産業活性化推進計画] City of Kyoto (pp. 1–38).

  • Kyoto City Traditional Industry Revitalization Committee. 2005. [京都市伝統産業活性化検討委員会 提言~伝統産業の未来を切り拓くために~], City of Kyoto (pp. 1–60).

  • Kyoto Newspaper. 2019. Promoting Kyoto’s traditional craft in Paris. The largest exhibition in Europe. [京都の伝統工芸品、パリでPR 欧州最大の国際見本市]. https://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/top/article/20190118000164/print.

  • Lampel, J., Lant, T., & Shamsie, J. 2000. Balancing act: Learning from organizing practices in cultural industries. Organization Science, 11(3): 263–269.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lawrence, T. B. & Phillips, N., 2002. Understanding cultural industries. Journal of Management Inquiry, 11(4): 430–441.

    Google Scholar 

  • Leonidou, L. C. 2004. An analysis of the barriers hindering small business export development. Journal of Small Business Management, 42(3): 279–302.

    Google Scholar 

  • Levitt, T. 1983. The globalization of markets. Harvard Business Review, 61: 92–102.

  • Locke, K. 2001. Grounded theory in management research. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maekelburger, B., Schwens, C., & Kabst, R. 2012. Asset specificity and foreign market entry mode choice of small and medium-sized enterprises: The moderating influence of knowledge safeguards and institutional safeguards. Journal of International Business Studies, 43(5): 458–476.

    Google Scholar 

  • Magnusson, P., Westjohn, S. A., Semenov, A. V., Randrianasolo, A. A., & Zdravkovic, S. 2013. The role of cultural intelligence in marketing adaptation and export performance. Journal of International Marketing, 21(4): 44–61.

    Google Scholar 

  • Magnusson, P., Westjohn, S. A. & Sirianni, N. J. 2019. Beyond country image favorability: How brand positioning via country personality stereotypes enhances brand evaluations. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(3): 318–338.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maxwell, J. A., & Miller, B. A. 2008. Categorizing and connecting strategies in qualitative data analysis. In In Hesse-Biber, S. N. & Leavy, P. (Eds) Handbook of Emergent Methods (pp. 461–477). New York: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  • Merz, M., He, Y. & Alden, D. 2008. A categorization approach to analyzing the global consumer culture debate, International Marketing Review, 25(2): 166–182.

    Google Scholar 

  • Micelli, S., & Sacchetti, V. 2014. Made in Italy: A decade of change. The Journal of Modern Craft, 7(1): 81–88.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mintzberg, H. 1979. The structuring of organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mintzberg, H., & Waters, J. A. 1985. Of strategies, deliberate and emergent. Strategic Management Journal, 6(3): 257–272.

    Google Scholar 

  • Monthly Textiles. 2017. Integrating tradition and innovation will lead to the success in the global market [伝統と革新で世界に挑むメイド・イン・ジャパン]. March, Vol. 683, Itochu Corporation.

  • Nie, C. & Wang, T. 2019. How global brands incorporate local cultural elements to improve brand evaluations. International Marketing Review. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-01-2019-0035.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • O’Donnell, S., & Jeong, I. 2000. Marketing standardization within global industries: An empirical study of performance implications. International Marketing Review, 17(1): 19–33.

    Google Scholar 

  • Obadia, C. 2013. Foreigness-induced cognitive disorientation. Management International Review, 53(3): 325–360.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Cass, A., & Julian, C. 2003. Examining firm and environmental influences on export marketing mix strategy and export performance of Australian exporters. European Journal of Marketing, 37(3/4): 366–384.

    Google Scholar 

  • Patichol, P., Wongsurawat, W., & M. Johri, L. 2014. Upgrade strategies in the Thai silk industry: Balancing value promotion and cultural heritage. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 18(1): 20–35.

    Google Scholar 

  • Paul, J., Parthasarathy, S., & Gupta, P. 2017. Exporting challenges of SMEs: A review and future research agenda. Journal of World Business, 52(3): 327–342.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peng, M. W., & Ilinitch, A. Y. 1998. Export intermediary firms: A note on export development research. Journal of International Business Studies, 29(3): 609–620.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peng, M. W., & York, A. S. 2001. Behind intermediary performance in export trade: Transactions, agents, and resources. Journal of International Business Studies, 32(2): 327–346.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pettigrew, A. M. 1990. Longitudinal field research on change: Theory and practice. Organization Science, 1(3): 267–292.

    Google Scholar 

  • Poulis, K., & Poulis, E. 2013. The influence of intra-national cultural heterogeneity on product standardisation and adaptation: A qualitative study. International Marketing Review, 30(4): 357–383.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prahalad, C. K., & Doz, Y. L. 1987. The multinational mission: Balancing local demands and global vision. New York: Simon and Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pratt, M. G. 2009. From the editors: For the lack of a boilerplate: Tips on writing up (and reviewing) qualitative research. Academy of Management Journal, 52(5): 856–862.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ravasi, D., & Rindova, V. 2008. Symbolic value creation. In Berry, D. & Hansen, H. (Eds) Handbook of new approaches to organization (pp. 270–284). London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reuber, A. R., Dimitratos, P., & Kuivalainen, O. 2017. Beyond categorization: New directions for theory development about entrepreneurial internationalization. Journal of International Business Studies, 48(4): 411–422.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rindova, V., Dalpiaz, E. & Ravasi, D. 2011. A cultural quest: A study of organizational use of new cultural resources in strategy formation. Organization Science, 22(2): 413–431.

    Google Scholar 

  • Santos, J. F., & Williamson, P. J. 2015. The new mission for multinationals. MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(4): 45.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sasaki, I., Ravasi, D. & Micelotta, E. 2019. Family firms as institutions: Cultural reproduction and status maintenance among multi-centenary shinise in Kyoto. Organization Studies, 40(6): 793–831.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmitz, H. 1999. Global competition and local cooperation: success and failure in the Sinos Valley, Brazil. World Development, 27(9): 1627–1650.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schroeder, J., Borgerson, J., & Wu, Z. 2017. A brand culture approach to Chinese cultural heritage brands. In Advances in Chinese brand management (pp. 80–106). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Sennett, R. 2008. The craftsman. USA: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spielmann, N. 2016. Is it all or nothing? Testing schema congruity and typicality for products with country origin. Journal of Business Research, 69(3): 1130–1137.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stake, R. E. 1995. The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Subramaniam, M., & Hewett, K. 2004. Balancing standardization and adaptation for product performance in international markets: Testing the influence of headquarters-subsidiary contact and cooperation. Management International Review, 44(2): 171.

    Google Scholar 

  • Takamura, Y. 2012. Research on the reality of activation of local communities through traditional craft industry. [伝統産業を通じた地域活性化の実態に関する研究] Dissertation, Kougakuin University, Department of Architecture.

  • Tan, Q., & Sousa, C. M. 2013. International marketing standardization. Management International Review, 53(5): 711–739.

    Google Scholar 

  • Terpstra, V. 1972. International marketing. Forth Worth, US: Dryden.

    Google Scholar 

  • Venaik, S., & Midgley, D. F. 2019. Archetypes of marketing mix standardization-adaptation in MNC subsidiaries: Fit and equifinality as complementary explanations of performance. European Journal of Marketing, 53(2): 366–399.

    Google Scholar 

  • Verganti, R. 2003. Design as brokering of languages: Innovation strategies in Italian firms. Design Management Journal, 14(3): 1–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vrontis, D., Thrassou, A., & Lamprianou, I. 2009. International marketing adaptation versus standardisation of multinational companies. International Marketing Review, 26(4/5): 477–500.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wang, S. L., Gu, Q., Von Glinow, M. A. & Hirsch, P. 2020. Cultural industries in international business research: Progress and prospect. Journal of International Business Studies. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-020-00306-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Welch, C., Piekkari, R., Plakoyiannaki, E., & Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, E. 2011. Theorising from case studies: Towards a pluralist future for international business research. Journal of International Business Studies, 42(5): 740–762.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wiechmann, U. E. 1976. Marketing management in multinational firms. The consumer packaged goods industry. New York: Praeger.

  • Zebrowska, M. & Kroezen, J. 2019. Hooked on a thread: Investigating the interplay between stability and change in institutional maintenance, paper presented at the EGOS Colloquium, Edinburgh, July 2–4, 2019.

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Area Editor Becky Reuber and three anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and developmental comments during the editorial process. Innan Sasaki gratefully acknowledges the continued support and cooperation of the managers of the case firms in Kyoto. She is also grateful to the University of Kyoto for hosting her as guest research associate during the data collection period, and to the Academy of Finland (Application No. 296411) and the Foundation for Economic Education in Finland for the grants she received for data collection. Niina Nummela gratefully acknowledges the support received from the Estonian Research Council for this research (Project PUT1003).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Innan Sasaki.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Accepted by Becky Reuber, Area Editor, 2 April 2020. This article has been with the authors for three revisions.

Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

Table 8 Characteristics of craft firms and the challenges they posed to internationalization
Table 9 Selective targeting—Illustrative evidence
Table 10 Cultural adaptation—Illustrative evidence
Table 11 Cultural transposition—Illustrative evidence
Table 12 Micro-level practices of cultural intermediaries - Illustrative evidence

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sasaki, I., Nummela, N. & Ravasi, D. Managing cultural specificity and cultural embeddedness when internationalizing: Cultural strategies of Japanese craft firms. J Int Bus Stud 52, 245–281 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-020-00330-0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-020-00330-0

Keywords

  • SME internationalization
  • product adaptation
  • cultural differences
  • export intermediaries
  • craft
  • authenticity
  • cultural intermediaries
  • product design
  • cultural industries
  • Japan