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Born global firms and accidental internationalists: Has Hennart (2014) opened a can of worms?

Douglas Dow (Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia)

Review of International Business and Strategy

ISSN: 2059-6014

Article publication date: 4 September 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to respond to Hennart’s (2014) challenge to the existing born global literature. In his challenge, Hennart proposes a simpler explanation of why some firms internationalize earlier and more aggressively than others. However, such a parsimonious model of born global firms raises the awkward question of whether born global firms are indeed any different from firms that internationalize more gradually.

Design/methodology/approach

Using two extensive surveys of Australian exporters, this paper first explores the degree to which a set of six “facilitating factors” that Hennart puts forward are different across born global and non-born global firms. Next, it tests the second aspect of the debate highlighted above – i.e. whether born global firms behave differently from non-born global firms. This is done by testing for differences in the patterns of early market selection for born global and non-born global firms.

Findings

Support is found for both the role of facilitating factors and for the view that born global firms behave differently from non-born global firms. As a result, it is proposed that the Hennart and the RBV-oriented explanations of born global firms need to be viewed as complementary, rather than competing. Each may represent a necessary but not sufficient condition with respect to born global firms.

Originality/value

A systematic testing for differences in facilitating factors and market selection patterns across born global and non-born global firms are both issues that have major implications for the born global literature, and yet have been left largely unexplored to date.

Keywords

Citation

Dow, D. (2017), "Born global firms and accidental internationalists: Has Hennart (2014) opened a can of worms?", Review of International Business and Strategy, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 286-307. https://doi.org/10.1108/RIBS-02-2017-0012

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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