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Serendipitous opportunities, entry strategy and knowledge in firms' foreign market entry

Mikael Hilmersson (Department of Business Administration, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Martin Johanson (School of Technology and Business Studies, Hogskolan Dalarna, Falun, Sweden) (Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden) (Department of Management, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Heléne Lundberg (Centre for Research on Economic Relationships, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden)
Stylianos Papaioannou (Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 17 March 2021

Issue publication date: 20 May 2021




Few researchers and even fewer practitioners would deny that serendipitous events play a central role in the growth process of firms. However, most international marketing models ignore the role of serendipity in the opportunity discovery process. The authors provide a nuanced view on international opportunities by developing the role of serendipitous opportunities in the foreign market entry process. The authors develop a model integrating the notions of serendipity, entrepreneurial logic, experiential knowledge and network knowledge redundancy. From the study’s model, the authors condense three sets of hypotheses on the relationships among experiential knowledge and entry strategy, network knowledge redundancy, entry strategy and serendipity.


The authors confront the study’s hypotheses with data collected on-site at 168 Swedish firms covering 234 opportunities, and to test the hypotheses, the authors ran ordinary least squares (OLS) regression tests in three steps.


The results of the study’s analysis reveal that experiential knowledge and network knowledge redundancy both lead to a logic based on rigid planning and systematic search, which in turn reduces the likelihood that serendipitous opportunities will be realized in the foreign market entry process.


This is the first study that develops a measure of opportunities that are the outcome of serendipitous events. In addition, the authors integrate network and learning theories and internationalization theory by establishing antecedents to, and outcomes of, the entry strategy.



The article was finalized while Martin Johanson was a visiting Professor at University of Huddersfield. He is grateful for the financial support from Leverhulme Trust.


Hilmersson, M., Johanson, M., Lundberg, H. and Papaioannou, S. (2021), "Serendipitous opportunities, entry strategy and knowledge in firms' foreign market entry", International Marketing Review, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 585-612.



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