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Declining industries in emerging economies and firms’ strategies

Hao Tan (Newcastle Business School, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 26 May 2022

Issue publication date: 27 January 2023




International business (IB) and strategy research in the context of emerging economies (EEs) has focused traditionally on the strategies of firms in and from those markets to seize opportunities arising from their economic growth. This paper aims to demonstrate that declining industries in EEs are an important but overlooked research context for critical IB scholarship and to illuminate special considerations for strategising under those conditions.


This paper provides an overview of declining industries in EEs and includes an illustration of a sample of such industries in major EEs. This paper then critically reviews research on firms’ strategies in declining industries and extends that critical discussion to the EE context.


Firstly, this paper provides evidence relating to declines in industries in EEs. Secondly, this paper identifies three major strategies that firms use in response to an industry decline and critically discusses those strategies’ manifestations and special considerations in the context of EEs.

Social implications

Industry decline in EEs and the resultant responses of multi-national enterprises and local firms, such as business exit, market competition and firm diversification strategies, cause significant social challenges. This paper calls for further research on the phenomenon, especially regarding its distinctive ramifications compared with those in the context of developed countries.


This paper contributes to the critical IB scholarship by questioning the assumptions around high economic growth in individual EE industries and by challenging a universalistic approach that applies findings grounded in declining industries in developed countries to the distinctive context of EEs. This paper also provides forward-looking expositions concerning industry decline in EEs.



The author thank the editors and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. He also thank Stephen Nicholas, John Mathews, Klaus E. Meyer, Jie ZHANG, Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra, and participants of the ANZIBA conference in Adelaide in 2017 and those in the research seminar in Jinan University, Guangzhou, China in 2018 for their useful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. He thank Van Ha Nguyen for research assistance in this study.

The author would like to thank Van Ha Nguyen for research assistance in this study.


Tan, H. (2023), "Declining industries in emerging economies and firms’ strategies", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 234-252.



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