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The impact of differences in internationalization processes on innovation by emerging economy firms

Shantala Samant (Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, USA)
Pooja Thakur-Wernz (Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, USA)
Donald E. Hatfield (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 21 June 2021




The purpose of this paper is to study the differences in the internationalization process of firms from emerging economies and the impact of their international expansion related choices on the nature of technological innovations developed by these firms. Specifically, the authors compare two principal perspectives on internationalization – the incremental internationalization process (slow, gradually increasing commitments using greenfield investments to similar host countries) and the springboard perspective (aggressive, rapidly increasing commitments using mergers and acquisitions to advanced host countries).


Building on key differences between the incremental internationalization and springboard perspectives, the authors argue that differences in the speed and mode of entry, as well as the interaction between the mode of entry and location of internationalization, will lead to differences in the types of technologies (mature versus novel) developed by emerging economy firms. The authors examine the hypotheses using panel data from 1997 to 2013 on emerging economy multinationals (EMNEs) from the Indian bio-pharmaceutical industry.


The findings suggest that firms internationalizing at higher speeds and using cross-border M&As tend to have innovations in mature technologies. The interesting findings can be explained by the challenges faced by emerging economy firms in experiential learning and the assimilation of external knowledge. In addition, the authors find that internationalization to technologically advanced countries weakens the relationship between cross-border M&As and innovation in mature technologies, suggesting that direct learning from technologically advanced environments may help alleviate the assimilation challenges of cross-border M&As.


The authors advance literature on EMNE internationalization by comparing the impact of their choice of internationalization approaches (incremental internationalization or springboard approach) on their innovation performance. The authors contribute to literature on EMNEs that has focused on the determinants of internationalization by identifying the learning implications of internationalization. The authors contribute to the nascent stream of literature on the level of innovation and catching up by EMNEs by performing a fine-grained analysis of the nature of technology innovation.



Samant, S., Thakur-Wernz, P. and Hatfield, D.E. (2021), "The impact of differences in internationalization processes on innovation by emerging economy firms", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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