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Drivers of successful international business strategy: Insights from the evolution of a trading company

Karim Marini Thomé (University of Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil)
Janann Joslin Medeiros (University of Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 18 January 2016




The purpose of this paper is to identify and describe the drivers of trading company strategy that explain trading company success in international business.


The strategy tripod that results from combining the industry-, resource- and institution-based views, each of which proposes specific drivers of strategic success, was used as the framework for investigating, in a longitudinal perspective, the drivers of the strategy of a trading company and its success in emerging economies. Data were collected using in-depth interviews, document analysis and non-participant observation and analyzed using content analysis techniques.


Rather than a single driver, the authors found that strategic choices were driven at times by the demands of industrial competitiveness, at times by firm resources and capabilities, and at times by institutional conditions. There was evidence neither of a linear chronological order for these drivers, nor of driver obsolescence. On the contrary, findings suggest that drivers are cumulative and interactive. Changes in organizational resources and capabilities or in competitive or institutional environments can force review and re-thinking of strategic objectives.

Research limitations/implications

Generalization is affected by the fact that the study focusses on the experience of one individual trading company.

Practical implications

From a pragmatic, managerially oriented perspective, the findings show the importance to be alert to all the tripod legs over time, and not belittle the institutional context. This fact is noted by the data, which not realize a timeline or order between the drivers and the strategies adopted by the firm.


The paper is of value in showing the drivers of trading company strategy and the determinants of trading company success in emerging economies using a longitudinal perspective rather than the more usual sectional perspective. In addition, the study is original in simultaneously investigating all three legs of the strategy tripod and providing empirical evidence about how the respective drivers interact over time.



Thomé, K.M. and Medeiros, J.J. (2016), "Drivers of successful international business strategy: Insights from the evolution of a trading company", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 89-110.



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