Regional Aspects of Multinationality and Performance: Volume 13


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(20 chapters)
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I am pleased to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Mildred Harris and Anne Hasiuk in the preparation of this book. In addition, the authors responded quickly to the invitation to submit original papers and were good natured in their responses to numerous remarks and queries. I am grateful to my editors at Elsevier, Mary Malin and Helen Collins, for their attention to this book.

In the field of international business one of the most basic issues is the relationship between multinationality and performance. Several hundred studies have examined the nature of this relationship, with somewhat inconclusive results. This literature is reviewed and extended in Part B of this book. However, the main contribution of this book lies in Parts A and C which explore the regional dimension of multinationality and performance.

This chapter outlines a general theory of international expansion and its effect on the performance of firms. Using the lens of this theory, it addresses the question of why most companies are “regional,” in the sense that their geographical coverage seems to be far from complete. The chapter also treats the perplexing issue of the lack of congruence in empirical findings, over the 30-year history of the Multinationality vs. Performance sub-field in International Business studies. It argues that the apparently contradictory results of past studies are but subsets of the three stages of the general theory. Finally, the chapter indicates fruitful areas for further research.

The traditional dependent variable in the multinationality and performance literature is the ratio of foreign (F) to total (T) sales, (F/T). This can now be supplemented by a new regional variable, the ratio of regional (R) to total (T) sales, i.e. (R/T). Data are presented on both (F/T) and (R/T) for both sales and assets for a five-year period, 2001–2005. Implications are drawn for future research on multinationality and performance in the light of this regional phenomenon.

In this chapter, we revisit the empirical findings of Rugman and coauthors concerning the overwhelming home-regionalisation among the world's largest firms. Using a longitudinal research design and continuous measures of internationalisation, we observe a number of secular trends. Among other, we find that sales growth beyond the home region is faster than sales growth within the home region. We use our empirical results to critique and augment existing regionalisation theory. In particular, we raise doubts about the sharp distinction in the literature between expansion in the home region and expansion in host regions.

Diametrically opposed views exist on the nature of global strategic management, the existence of global multinational enterprises (MNEs), and the performance implications of regional and global orientation. However, these divergent opinions on the nature of global strategy “should be considered a starting point for introducing systematically a regional component in international business research” (Rugman & Verbeke, 2004a, p. 5). Our aim in this chapter, therefore, is to examine the geographic orientation (i.e., regional versus global) of multinational firms to provide new insights into some of the important characteristics that distinguish between these MNE archetypes. Our findings suggest that the interaction between the MNE's organizational characteristics and its geographic orientation is associated with MNEs performance. By arguing for a contingency perspective on regional and global strategy, we thus attempt to bridge the gap between these two opposing viewpoints.

It has been demonstrated by Rugman and his colleagues that a majority of the activities undertaken by the world's largest 500 MNEs, such as sales, assets, and employment, are regional in nature. This evidence has also been extended to trade and FDI patterns of OECD countries. Given the costs associated with doing business in foreign and distant markets, one may expect there to be a regional concentration in such activities. That is, the concentration of MNE activities in regional markets may be consistent with a transactions cost model. The objective of the analysis undertaken in this paper is to measure the extent to which the concentrations of OECD MNE activities can be explained by a formal transactions costs model (the gravity model in this case). These results are important for two main reasons. To the extent the concentrations are consistent with a formal model, then, first, this would provide further theoretical arguments in support of Rugman's hypotheses, and second, this would indicate that MNE managers have it right – that is, the activities of the corporations they manage are as global as they should be. On the other hand, if the activities are not fully explainable by atransactions cost model, the implications would be quite different. Theresults indicate that although some activities can be explained by a gravity model, many dimensions of OECD MNE activities, especially within the EU, are not explainable using a gravity model. That is, many of the activities of EU MNEs are more regionally concentrated than would be predicted by transactions costs.

In this paper, I address issues concerning the empirical estimation of a relationship between firm performance and its degree of multinationality. I argue for greater delineation of the underlying nature of firms’ multinationality and point to several statistical issues regarding estimation that appear to need resolution, but which appear to have been largely neglected in the literature that has examined for a multinationality–performance relationship. Among these are endogeneity of the multinationality construct in the performance relationship and the likelihood that the multinationality–performance relationship is heterogeneous across firms.

Our meta-analysis of 92 international samples, with a total sample size of 8,491, demonstrates that firms following internationalization strategies by means of external growth modes can realize a significant positive performance impact on firm performance (r=0.156). This performance effect is significantly stronger than for firms using external growth strategies in their home country (117 samples, with a total sample size of 29,998, r=0.077). Moderating effects are found for the type of international business combination (mergers and acquisitions versus alliance) and the internationalizing firm's region of origin, whereas the relatedness of the firms and the region entered show no moderating impact.

Recent research on the internationalization–performance (IP) relationship has suggested that many of the different results can be explained by the role of moderating factors. This paper explores the hitherto underemphasized role of strategic fit between organizational structure on the one hand and industry pressures towards integration and responsiveness on the other hand. We suggest a new way of measuring organizational structure (and consequently strategic fit), based on archival data rather than questionnaires, and include these measures in our regression analysis on a sample of 332 Fortune companies.We find that strategic fit positively affects performance and moderates the shape, size and direction of the internationalization–performance relationship.

We investigate the internationalization pattern and performance of Indian firms. We first discuss the regionalization trend evident in the internationalization of Indian manufacturing and service firms over time. Next, we empirically test the impact of degree of internationalization on firm financial performance of Indian firms. We also test the moderation effect of business group affiliation on the internationalization–performance relationship. We find that Indian outward foreign direct investment has been shifting from developing to developed economies over time. Also, firm performance of Indian firms is positively related to the degree of internationalization and that service firms profit more than manufacturing firms from internationalization. Business group affiliation reduces the positive effect of internationalization on firm performance.

We suggest that the entire world may not always be the appropriate frame of reference in analyses of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) location choices. In some industries and activities, more narrowly defined geographic areas, such as regions and cities, are more relevant level of analyses. Employing global cities as the geographic frame of reference, we extend the theory of the location choices of MNEs by challenging the assumption that location attributes have identical values for all MNEs. Rather, we explicitly acknowledge the relative value of such attributes for individual MNEs, and search for the firm-specific characteristics that affect this variation. The empirical testing is based on analysis of 673 financial and professional service MNEs that entered New York and London via mergers and acquisitions (M&As). The findings confirm that it is the interaction between location and firm-specific attributes, rather than each of these independently, which affects location choices.

This study compares U.S. firm international strategies between two starkly different industries. We find that firms are more inclined to adopt global strategies in the integrated global industry than in the multidomestic industry. The global strategy does not seem to be effective unless a firm possesses substantial intangible assets. R&D-based intangible assets play a more significant role than marketing-based intangible assets in both the integrated global industry and (to a lesser extent) the multidomestic industry. Additionally, internationalization pace has a positive direct impact, and a negative interaction effect with the global strategy on firm performance in the integrated global industry.

As multinational enterprises (MNEs) expand internationally (for example, as the ratio of foreign (F) to total (T) sales increases), there is a positive effect on firm performance (usually measured by return on total assets (ROTA). We advance this literature in three ways: (i) we focus on the recent performance of UK MNEs, in terms of ROTA, but also in terms of their return on foreign assets (ROFA); (ii) to supplement (F/T), we examine the ratio of European (E) to total (T) sales of these UK MNEs; and (iii) we test the relationship between (E/T) and both ROFA and ROTA, and find a significant non-linear fit.

This study examines the effect of a firm's level of intra-regional sales in the triad markets of North American, Europe, and Asia on its performance. The form of the relationship is explored. The results show that there exists a strong positive relationship between a firm's level of intra-regional sales and its performance (measured by return on equity (ROE) and return on assets, (ROA)). A firm tends to perform better when it has its sales in the home region of the triad. The hypothesis that there exists a non-linear relationship (second- and third-order curvilinear relationship) between performance and intra-regional sales is not supported.

Despite many years of research, empirical studies of the relationship between internationalization and performance of firms have given conflicting results. Contractor, Kundu, and Hsu (2003) and Lu and Beamish (2004) have recently proposed a three-stage theory of international expansion that attempts to reconcile the conflicting findings. However, other studies suggest that there are good reasons to believe that firms from less-developed countries (LDCs) differ in their internationalization from firms in developed countries. Furthermore, little research has been conducted on service firms in LDCs. This paper aims to fill some of this gap by testing the internationalization–performance relationship in a sample of service firms in the Asia-Pacific region.

The study confirms the three-stage model but adds two new dimensions. First, the results show that the internationalization–performance relationship varies significantly depending on whether internationalization is intra-regional or extra-regional. Extra-regional sales/total sales showed significant and positive relationships with return on assets (ROA) in all three models but combined foreign sales/total sales showed no significant relationships with ROA and surprisingly intra-regional sales showed a significant relationship only in the quadratic model.

This study provides a deeper insight into the performance effects of internationalization of the most international multinational enterprises (MNEs). Most MNEs perform their business activities within their home-regional block of the world – North America, Europe or the Asia-Pacific block. Whether these regional strategies pay off is explored by means of two analyses: first, the impact of internationalization in terms of the transnationality index, and second, the impact of foreign intra-regional sales on performance is examined. Results indicate that regional strategies smooth performance declines in the early stages of internationalization but also smooth performance increases during a phase of high-foreign expansion.

Author Index

Pages 383-390
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Subject Index

Pages 391-395
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Research in Global Strategic Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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