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The competitive advantages of emerging market multinationals: a re-assessment

Peter J. Williamson (Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

critical perspectives on international business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 6 July 2015



The purpose of this paper is to re-assess both the nature and sources of the competitive advantages which multinationals expanding from home bases in emerging economies (EMNEs) may enjoy in the global market.


The paper analyses the results of 12 concurrent studies undertaken by a group of experts who were asked to examine how strategies for innovation, international value chain configuration and foreign mergers and acquisitions contributed to the competitive advantages of multinationals emerging from Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRICs), respectively.


EMNEs do have competitive advantages that can underpin their expansion abroad, but these are mainly “non-traditional” advantages that have been built by finding innovative ways to leverage advantages of their home countries. EMNE’s internationalisation is as much about accessing new resources and knowledge to enable them to extend their competitive advantage, as it is a route to exploiting existing advantages over a larger set of markets. As a result, the global value chain structure of EMNEs tends to be fundamentally different from that chosen by incumbent multinationals.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to EMNEs from the BRIC countries, but implications for EMNEs emerging from other countries are discussed.


We bring to bear extensive data and a systematic approach to understanding the new breed of multinationals emerging from the BRIC countries; their sources of competitive advantage; and how they are using innovation, foreign investment and overseas acquisitions to transform global competition.



Williamson, P.J. (2015), "The competitive advantages of emerging market multinationals: a re-assessment", critical perspectives on international business, Vol. 11 No. 3/4, pp. 216-235.



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