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Metanationality and telecommunications incumbency

Colin Turner (Senior Lecturer in International Strategic Management, School of Management, Heriot‐Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




This paper sets out to recognise the complexity of the internationalisation process of telecommunications operators via an examination of the metanational forces influencing strategy of European incumbents. Thus as part of a broad strategy of strategic defence incumbents may seek to tap into metanational forces.


The utilisation of metanational forces for the purposes of strategic defence was examined via a dual case analysis. These were chosen to reflect two different strategic scenarios. The first case (Belgacom) has a purely defensive strategy, while the second (Telefonica) has dual‐faceted strategy based on defence alongside a more offensive international strategy.


Across both of these cases, there was evidence of emergent metanational strategies. These incumbents accessed the global resource pool to retrieve or acquire skills, capabilities or resources that would aid the competitive positioning of incumbents within their home market. It was found that the strong market position aided their ability to gain access to “valuable” resources. This raises evident policy issues.

Research limitations/implications

A dual case analysis only offers a limited perspective on the influence of metanationality. However, the trend does highlight the increasingly complex nature of international strategy in telecommunications.


The value of the paper lies in understanding that the competitive advantage of incumbent operators can lie beyond their own national borders. This raises issues over the nature of strategic defence for incumbents in an increasingly internationalised marketplace.



Turner, C. (2008), "Metanationality and telecommunications incumbency", info, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 61-71.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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