Whole country-of-origin network development abroad

Abstract

The support that networks offer during the internationalization process is well documented in the international business literature. However, this work has primarily focused on firm-level networks while underappreciating the cooperative behaviors that may emerge among organizations in the pursuit of common network-level goals. To better understand these concerted and coordinated actions, we engaged in a qualitative examination of two clusters of Italian organizations abroad. We observed that goal-directed and governed networks emerged in these clusters, bounded by their common desire to support Italian firms’ internationalization. This insight underlies our contributions to the international business and whole network literatures. We offer a process model outlining the emergence of a particular type of whole network: the country-of-origin network. This process is much more distributed, emergent, and context-dependent than previously theorized. Our model illustrates that network development involves the active and coordinated efforts of diverse actors working to create infrastructure that can be accessed by and shared between new and existing organizations. Our finding that both networks were governed utilizing a distinct but context-appropriate governance structure provides new insight into how networks support internationalization. Furthermore, it illustrates that whole network-level support is distinct from, but complementary to, the firm-to-firm support highlighted in previous studies.

Resume

Le soutien que les réseaux offrent au cours du processus d’internationalisation est bien documenté dans la littérature. Cependant, ces travaux se sont principalement concentrés sur les réseaux au niveau des entreprises, tout en sous-estimant les comportements coopératifs qui peuvent émerger entre les organisations dans la poursuite d’objectifs communs au niveau du réseau. Pour mieux comprendre ces actions concertées et coordonnées, nous avons entrepris un examen qualitatif de deux groupes d’organisations italiennes à l’étranger. Nous avons observé que des réseaux dirigés et régis par des objectifs ont émergé dans ces groupes, liés par leur désir commun de soutenir l’internationalisation des entreprises italiennes. Cette constatation sous-tend nos contributions aux littératures concernant l’international business et l’ensemble des réseaux. Nous proposons un modèle processuel décrivant l’émergence d’un type particulier de réseau global: le réseau du pays d’origine. Ce processus est beaucoup plus distribué, émergent et dépendant du contexte que ce qui a été théorisé auparavant. Notre modèle illustre le fait que le développement d’un réseau implique les efforts actifs et coordonnés de divers acteurs travaillant à la création d’une infrastructure accessible et partagée par les organisations nouvelles et existantes. Le fait de constater que les deux réseaux étaient régis par une structure de gouvernance distincte mais adaptée au contexte donne un nouvel éclairage sur la manière dont les réseaux soutiennent l’internationalisation. En outre, il montre que le soutien au niveau de l’ensemble du réseau est distinct, mais complémentaire, du soutien entre entreprises mis en évidence dans les études précédentes.

Resumen

El apoyo que ofrecen las redes durante el proceso de internacionalización está bien documentado en la literatura de negocios internacionales. Sin embargo, este trabajo se ha centrado principalmente en las redes a nivel de la empresa mientras que se menosprecian los comportamientos que pueden surgir entre las organizaciones en la búsqueda de metas comunes a nivel de la red. Para entender mejor estas acciones concertadas y coordinadas, participamos de un examen cualitativo de dos clústeres de organizaciones italiana en el extranjero. Observamos que las redes dirigidas y gobernadas por objetivos surgían en estos clústeres, limitadas por su deseo en común de apoyar la internacionalización de las empresas italianas. Esta observación subyace nuestra contribución a las literaturas de negocios internacionales y toda la red. Ofrecemos un modelo de proceso que esboza el surgimiento de un tipo de red completa: la red del país de origen. Este proceso está mucho más distribuido, emergente, y dependiente del contexto de lo que sea había previamente teorizado. Nuestro modelo ilustra que el desarrollo de la red involucra los esfuerzos activos y coordinados de actores diversos que trabajan para crear infraestructura a la que se puede acceder y compartir entre organizaciones nuevas y existentes. Nuestro hallazgo que ambas redes eran gobernadas usando una estructura de gobernanza diferente pero apropiada al contexto suministra una nueva comprensión sobre cómo las rede apoyan la internacionalización. Además, ilustra que todo el apoyo a nivel de red completa es distinto, pero complementario, del apoyo de empresa a empresa destacado en estudios anteriores.

Resumo

O suporte que redes oferecem durante o processo de internacionalização está bem documentado na literatura de negócios internacionais. No entanto, este trabalho focou principalmente em redes no nível da empresa, ao mesmo tempo que subestimou comportamentos cooperativos que podem surgir entre organizações na busca de objetivos comuns no nível da rede. Para entender melhor essas ações combinadas e coordenadas, realizamos um exame qualitativo de dois grupos de organizações italianas no exterior. Observamos que redes dirigidas por objetivos e governadas surgiram nesses grupos, delimitadas pelo seu desejo comum de apoiar a internacionalização de empresas italianas. Esse insight fundamenta nossas contribuições para a literatura de negócios internacionais e de rede inteira. Oferecemos um modelo de processo que descreve o surgimento de um tipo particular de rede inteira: a rede do país de origem. Este processo é muito mais distribuído, emergente e dependente do contexto do que anteriormente teorizado. Nosso modelo ilustra que o desenvolvimento da rede inclui os esforços ativos e coordenados de diversos atores que trabalham para criar uma infraestrutura que pode ser acessada e compartilhada entre organizações novas e existentes. Nossa descoberta de que ambas as redes foram governadas utilizando uma estrutura de governança distinta, mas apropriada ao contexto, fornece um novo insight sobre como redes apoiam a internacionalização. Além disso, ela ilustra que suporte no nível de toda a rede é distinto, mas complementar do suporte empresa-a-empresa destacado em estudos anteriores.

摘要

在国际化过程中网络所提供的支持已在国际商务文献中有充分的记载。然而, 这一研究主要集中在公司层面的网络上, 而对在追求共同的网络层面的目标中组织间可能出现的合作行为认识不足。为了更好地理解这些协调一致的行动, 我们对国外的两个意大利组织集群进行了定性研究。我们观察到, 以目标为导向的治理的网络出现在这些集群中, 受到它们支持意大利企业国际化的共同愿望的约束。这一洞见让我们对国际商务和整个网络文献做出了贡献。我们提出了一个过程模型, 概述了一种特定类型的整个网络的出现: 起源国网络。与以前的理论化相比, 此过程更为分散、自发且依赖于情境。我们的模型表明, 网络发展涉及不同参与者的积极协作, 这些参与者致力于创建可被新的和现有的组织所进入和共享的基础设施。我们的发现表明, 两个网络都利用独特而情境合适的治理结构来治理, 这为网络如何支持国际化提供了新洞解。此外, 它表明, 整个网络层面的支持与以前研究中所强调的公司对公司的支持不同, 但却相互补充。

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank the National Science Foundation (DDRI Award #0503922) and the Graduate School (Off Campus Dissertation Research Fellowship) and University Center for International Studies (now Center for Global Initiatives) (Doctoral Research Travel Award) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for funding the data collection in Romania. We would like to thank the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (Faculty Travel Award) and the College of Liberal Arts (Summer Research Grant) at the University of Mississippi for funding the data collection in China. We would also like to thank our Editor, Dr. Becky Reuber, and the three anonymous reviewers who offered supportive and thoughtful recommendations throughout the development of this manuscript. Finally, we would like to thank Dr. Tu Lan, Dr. Erin Bass, and Dr. Jennifer Howard-Grenville for their support and feedback in advancing this project.

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Accepted by Becky Reuber, Area Editor, 22 September 2020. This article has been with the authors for six revisions.

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Berns, J.P., Gondo, M. & Sellar, C. Whole country-of-origin network development abroad. J Int Bus Stud 52, 479–503 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-020-00379-x

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Keywords

  • networks
  • country-of-origin
  • internationalization
  • qualitative
  • process