Description of tracks

Track 1: Internationalisation in the Information Age

Keith Brouthers and Bent Petersen (Chairs)

“Information is power” those famous words were once a method to restrict power to those few who had access to information. In the information age everyone has access to a vast array of information – some true some not so true. The question firms need to answer is how does this new information age impact the internationalization process?
For this track we believe that internationalization in the information age covers two very distinct, yet related areas. First, we are interested in papers that explore the international processes undertaken by internet-based firms (e-commerce business, online businesses, etc.). These firms are unique in that theoretically they are international from day one, because their websites can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It is important to note that the proportion of internet-based firms make up a growing proportion of firms across industries (e.g. e-banking). Yet, regulative, normative and cognitive institutional barriers often make internationalization problematic for these firms. Papers looking at the interplay of these firms and internationalization are welcome in this track.
The second area we cover has to do with how access to all this information facilitates the internationalization process for ‘traditional’ businesses (service and manufacturing firms). For example how do firms break through the information log jam to help potential consumers find them? How do firms deal with consumer-targeted websites (rating sites) that can influence the rate of growth in a country? How do these firms find better suppliers, distributors and partners when there is so much information available? Whether building on traditional IB theories such as the stages model, internalization theory, or the OLI framework, the new information age can be conceptualized either as an enabler or barrier to international expansion.

Keywords: Information, digitization, scope and speed of internationalization, firms.

Track 2: Knowledge Management and Innovation

Isabel Alvarez and Grazia Santangelo (Chairs)

Knowledge and innovation are central to international business theories. This track deals with knowledge management and innovation within and across the borders of the multinational enterprise (MNE) network. It examines the creation and transfer of knowledge, and the management of innovation activities within the MNE network. It also focuses on international knowledge sourcing, and the external relations the MNE and its units engage with external partners by means of, among others, contractual and equity-based collaborations aiming at new knowledge creation. The track also deals with the effects of internal and external knowledge management and innovation-related activities on MNE’s competitiveness and performance as well as with the impact of the new diffusion phase of information and communication technologies (ICT) on innovation performance, and the ICT implications for knowledge transfer within the MNE and in an open innovation context.

Keywords: technology management; Intra-MNE knowledge transfer; Knowledge creation and diffusion; Knowledge sharing; Organizational learning; Knowledge governance mechanisms; R&D subsidiaries; Centers of excellence; International knowledge sourcing; R&D offshoring; Strategic technological partnerships; Licensing; Digital technologies, ICT.

Track 3: International Business and Economic Geography

Simona Iammarino and Ram Mudambi  (Chairs)

This track welcomes contributions that focus on business undertaken across geographic space. Foundational ideas that undergird this research involve recognizing (a) global linkages across space as organizationally orchestrated (MNEs) vs. individually motivated (diasporas); (b) spatial transaction costs as inextricably interconnected with boundaries and boundary spanning and (c) national borders as discontinuities in economic space. This track encompasses a wide umbrella that includes a range of research programs, including firm location and innovation decisions, global value chain fragmentation, the co-evolution of MNEs and locations, MNE search for talent and individuals’ search for jobs (and particularly, the associated models of matching), individual vs. organizational perceptions of location and environmental risk, and cross-border acquisitions (and particularly, the underlying strategic drivers and outcomes). These research themes are meant to be illustrative and not exhaustive. We strongly encourage contributions that explore the multidimensional nature of space and the interrelationships among the underlying dimensions (physical, cultural, linguistic, institutional, etc.). In terms of context, we are especially interested in research focusing on emerging markets and under-researched “frontier markets”, like those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Track 4: MNEs and Sustainable Development

Jonathan Doh and Elisa Giuliani (Chairs)

This track invites contributions that deal with the role of MNEs in sustainable development. We welcome submissions that address all aspects of the MNE-sustainability relationship, including those related to corporate social responsibility, human rights, poverty, climate change, as well as new business models for sustainable development. In addition, we encourage submissions that consider the potential role of MNEs in social innovations related to sustainable development alone or in collaboration with NGOs and other stakeholders.

Keywords: Accountability; Base of the pyramid; Business and society; Corporate social responsibility; Corruption; Environmental sustainability; Global value chains and sustainability; Human rights; Multilateral institutions; NGOs; Poverty; Stakeholders; Sustainable development.

Track 5: MNEs, Institutions and Policy

Ana Tavares-Lehmann and Sarianna Lundan (Chairs)

Multinational enterprises (MNEs) are influential actors in their home and host countries both as employers and producers of goods and services as well as corporate citizens. In the latter role, MNEs negotiate and form partnerships with governments and civil society organizations to develop solutions to a range of policy issues that impinge on their ability to carry out business activities domestically and across borders. In emerging markets, this might mean trying to overcome the costs of distance that arise from missing or underdeveloped institutions by participating e.g. in the provision of infrastructure or health and education services. In developed markets, it includes e.g. a variety of political influence strategies such as lobbying and expert testimony that are intended to influence the local and global regulatory environment. This track is looking for contributions that examine the policy impact and outcomes of the interaction between MNEs, governments and civil society in all areas of policy.

Keywords: Business-government relations; Comparative institutional analysis; Political risk; Political ties; State ownership; Regulatory systems; International agreements; Regional integration; Policies on FDI and trade; Investment attraction and locational competition;  Economic development and growth; Public-private partnerships; Stakeholder engagement.

Track 6: MNE Subsidiary Strategy, and Inter-Firm and Intra-Firm Business Networks

Ulf Andersson (Chair)

This track welcomes papers dealing with the antecedents and consequences from organizational decentralization, vertical disintegration and specialization, modularity, and knowledge creation on subsidiary roles and performance.

Keywords: Subsidiary Autonomy and Initiatives, Headquarters-subsidiary relationships, Subsidiary Power; Subsidiary strategy, Internal- and External Networks

Track 7: MNE Organization and Strategy

Torben Pedersen (Chair)

MNE’s must craft strategies and organizational processes for international expansion, diversification, and integration to develop, protect, and exploit their resources and capabilities from world-wide locations. This process may involve orchestration of international alliances and joint ventures, formal and informal networking, internal development, and offshored/outsourced value-adding activities.

Keywords: Operation mode, outsourcing/offshoring, decentralization/centralization, network, competitive advantage, global mindset.

Track 8: International Finance, Accounting and Corporate Governance

Igor Filatotchev and Jakob Müllner (Chairs)

The track aims to bring together research from International Finance, International Business and Accounting. It invites empirical and theoretical contributions at the intersection of the fields and aims to encourage interdisciplinary integration. Among others, important international business strategies under analysis can relate to foreign listing, financial risk management, trade finance, international accounting, transfer pricing, cash-management, project finance, M&A, hedging, or the use of local equity and debt in foreign markets. In addition, we invite papers which address financial effects resulting from firm-level internationalization such as cost of capital, foreign exchange risk, liability of foreignness in capital markets, financial flexibility and arbitrage. Finally, contributions can combine macro-level institutional concepts to financial management and accounting, providing insights that have both theoretical and managerial implications for the management and governance of international operations. In sum, papers should have clearly identified IB contributions but complement them with concepts, measures or theories from Financial Management and Accounting.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Institutions and their effects on international finance
  • Effects of financial factors on international business strategy
  • Governance and international finance
  • Financial sources of competitive advantage
  • Financial drivers of internationalization
  • Financial risk management as a complement to international business strategy
  • Finance related applications in IB theory and measures
  • Institutional influences on the evolution of financial markets

Track 9: International HRM and Cross Cultural Issues

Dana Minbaeva (Chair)

This track seeks contributions exploring the challenges faced by people working in an international and cross cultural context. We invite papers exploring the key issues in the management of people in contemporary MNC contexts, the role of culture and language in intra- and inter-organizational relationships. We are particularly interested in papers in international HRM, diversity management, global talent management and global leadership. Papers submitted to this track may take individual, group or organizational perspectives. We welcome pure theory papers as well as theoretical advances supported by empirical tests, both qualitative and quantitative.

Keywords: International HRM; Strategic HRM in MNCs; International mobility; Expatriates; Inpatriates; Returnees; Dual careers in IB; Careers in an international context; Diversity and inclusion; Cross-cultural communication; Cross-cultural management;  Multicultural teams; Bicultural and multicultural identity; Cultural intelligence; Global mindsets; Global leadership; Global leader competencies; Global talent management; Language; Qualitative research method; Quantitative research methods.

Track 10: International Marketing

Jorma Larimo (Chair)

The track welcomes especially papers focusing on new and innovative marketing strategies in international markets e.g. related to the use of digitalization and social media. Also papers related more traditional topics like standardization vs. adaptation of marketing mix elements, brand strategies, international advertising and international consumer behavior are welcome; especially papers focusing on dynamics in the behavior/strategies, comparing e.g. strategies between two areas/countries like in marketing to China vs. India, and/or international marketing behavior/strategy – performance relationship focusing papers. Furthermore, related to the methods quantitative and qualitative as well as mixed method papers are welcome.

Keywords: Social media; Digitalization and international marketing; International branding; International supply chain management; International buyer behavior; Culture and international marketing; International business negotiations; International advertising / promotion; International retailing; Export / international performance; Research methodology in international marketing.

Track 11: SMEs and International Entrepreneurship

Niina Nummela and Ivo Zander (Chairs)

This track seeks to extend our knowledge about smaller and entrepreneurial firms whose activities extend across national borders. It is particularly concerned with how these firms discover, evaluate, and exploit opportunities to create new products and services, but also more generally with how firms of limited size and resources extend and organize their international operations. We welcome all types of approaches to the study of such firms, and particularly encourage submissions of bold and potentially path-breaking papers. For ideas in the making, submissions to the poster sessions that proved very successful at last year’s conference are encouraged. Looking forward to stimulating exchange and discussions in Milan!

Keywords: SMEs, international entrepreneurship, international opportunity recognition and exploitation, internationalization process, international expansion and organization.

Track 12: Emerging Markets

Ilan Alon and Filip De Beule (Chairs)

This track explores the role of emerging markets in international business.  Emerging markets research is interdisciplinary and crosses traditional areas of business research including strategy, consumer behavior, organizational behavior, marketing, international trade, entrepreneurship and ethics.  What makes emerging markets research unique is the focus on the context.  Emerging markets institutions are different than advanced markets and they have more institutional voids. Emerging markets’ firms, therefore, behave and interact with others in unique ways. In recent year, particular attention was given to emerging markets multinationals (EMNCs).  All papers investigating international strategies or management practices that are associated with MNEs from developing and emerging countries are welcomed. Given the different institutional environments, comparative papers are also sought. Some of the relevant questions include but are not limited to: How do companies coming from countries at different levels of economic or political development differ in their global strategies? How do firms develop resources and capabilities to deal with the particular economic, geographic, political and social conditions of their home countries and use these abroad?; What are the contextual differences in emerging markets environments affecting companies, industries, development and consumers?; How does the home country context affect the innovativeness and types of innovations that firms create, exploit or explore in their global expansion?; How do ownership arrangement and organizational forms prevalent in certain countries, such as business groups and state owned firms, impact on investment strategies?; How do EMNCs establish home-host country technological, organizational and operational links?; What are the implications of emerging markets to consumer behavior, marketing strategy, organizational behavior, sustainability practices, and ethics?

Keywords: Business groups; Comparison of institutional environments across emerging economies; Competition between MNEs from different origins; Country of origin; Corporate governance in emerging economies; Cross-cultural issues in the context of emerging economies; Developing country firms; Economic development and competitiveness in emerging economies; Emerging market MNCs; Entry strategies for emerging economies; Home country environment; Institutional voids; Institutions of the home country; Knowledge creation and diffusion by EMNCs; Marketing in emerging economies; State owned MNEs; Strategic asset seeking FDI; Sustainable development in emerging economies.

Track 13: Novel Ways of Teaching and Doing Research

Jens Gammelgaard and Rob van Tulder (Chairs)

We encourage submissions of ‘stand alone cases’, that is not attached to a research paper, but rather serve as teaching cases, or data that can feed into research. We recommend two types of cases:

1) General cases that relate to the topic of the conference (international business in the information age; for instance with reference to new types of business models; platforms; we-economy; Airbnb; Uber, etc.;  These cases can be ordinary cases or more full swing teaching cases. Both versions are ok. They are eligible for inclusion in the PIBR volume

2) Teaching cases in general on IB topics (not necessarily related to the conference theme) combined with teaching practices, general cases or other forms of in-class discussion of relevant approaches.

Track 14: International Business and Omnichannel Strategies (SIMA – Società Italiana di Management)

Charles Hofacker and Michela Matarazzo (Chairs)

To prosper in a digital world, firms have initiated omnichannel strategies with the hope of creating synergies between the numerous, available channels and touch points across national borders (interactions with the firm, the partners, other customers and influencers). The idea is to optimize customer experience and performance over channels regardless of geography. We are therefore interested in comparative studies that explore the way consumers from different countries behave, engage, and co-create value online. For example: What are the drivers of customer experience and how do these differ among diverse national cultures? How do the distinctions among national cultures impede or enhance the success of firms’ customer experience initiatives? A second research area deals with firms’ integrated management of channels and touch points. Possible research questions are: How should organizations be structured to successfully manage and deliver customer experience across the customer journey in different countries? What is the role of cultural/psychic distance and trust in e-commerce?
Keywords: omnichannel, digital marketing, customer experience, brand, trust, cultural/psychic distance, value co-creation, global value chains.