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Networks in internationalisation

Reshaping the Boundaries of the Firm in an Era of Global Interdependence

ISBN: 978-0-85724-087-3, eISBN: 978-0-85724-088-0

Publication date: 12 November 2010


Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to provide a review of literature that analyses the internationalisation of the firm, through the function and role of networks.

Design/methodology/approach – A total of 23 papers (published between 1988 and 2008) explicitly using network as a research framework to study the internationalisation process of the firm were selected. They have been analysed according to a range of factors, including the author, journal, time frame in which they were published, type of focal firm, country of origin of focal firms, market entered, methods applied in the studies, theories adopted and research topic.

Findings – Networks have emerged as one of the dominant frameworks used to explain the phenomenon of internationalisation. Having originally been applied in studies of firms from developed countries entering similar markets, network theories are now as popular in studies of firms both originating in and entering emerging markets. This review also finds that both qualitative and quantitative methods have been adopted in the studies; however, few papers have tried to combine the two. Furthermore, the network approach has been used for comparative analysis with findings from FDI theory, as well as to supplement international new venture (INV) and born global theories. Lastly, this review highlights topics that have been explored in previous studies and suggests areas for further research.

Originality/value – This is the first review paper on this subject and as such it contributes to the growing body of knowledge on the network approach and assists in understanding the internationalisation phenomenon of the firm.


Johanson, M. and Kao, P.T. (2010), "Networks in internationalisation", Pla-Barber, J. and Alegre, J. (Ed.) Reshaping the Boundaries of the Firm in an Era of Global Interdependence (Progress in International Business Research, Vol. 5), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 119-142.



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