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Internationalization of mobile telecommunications: a systematic literature review

Marcellinus C. Dike (Aalto University School of Business, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland)
Elizabeth L. Rose (Otago Business School, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, and Aalto University School of Business, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland)

Review of International Business and Strategy

ISSN: 2059-6014

Article publication date: 4 September 2017




The purpose of this paper is to map the relevant studies pertaining to internationalization in the mobile telecommunications (telecom) sector, with the aims of reflecting and categorizing what has already been studied on this topic, as a means of guiding future research.


The authors use the systematic literature review methodological approach, adopting the “Antecedents-Phenomenon-Consequences” theoretical framework as a guide. Consistent with this framework, they identify and categorize studies in the academic literature that have discussed the cross-border expansion of mobile telecom firms. Their review is based on 50 research publications, selected based on the relevance of their findings and their underlying arguments. The authors then categorized each piece’s findings and arguments into themes and sub-themes.


The authors find evidence that mobile network operators (MNOs) are driven into international markets by a collection of factors that can broadly be categorized as either firm-specific/country factors or the desire to capture first-mover advantages (FMAs). They also find evidence that the Uppsala stages model does not provide an appropriate explanation of MNOs’ internationalization patterns, with firms tending to skip posited stages. Market size, the regulatory environment and government policies appear to be key influences in MNOs’ choices of foreign investment locations, and despite being a driver of internationalization, FMAs often erode with the entry of competitors. MNOs tend to prefer collaborative entries over greenfield investments, especially in countries in which telecommunications infrastructure is already in place. Finally, there is no consensus with respect to whether internationality is positively associated with financial performance for MNOs.


This review of the literature offers value to both academia and practice, by providing both insights into what has already been studied with respect to the internationalization of mobile telecom firms and a guide for future research.



Dike, M.C. and Rose, E.L. (2017), "Internationalization of mobile telecommunications: a systematic literature review", Review of International Business and Strategy, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 308-321.



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