CALL FOR PAPERS
Special Issue of the Journal of International Business Studies
THE MULTINATIONAL IN GEOGRAPHIC SPACE
Special Issue Editors
• Ulf Andersson, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
• Sjoerd Beugelsdijk, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
• Ram Mudambi, Temple University, USA
• Srilata Zaheer, University of Minnesota, USA
Deadline for submission: November 18, 2011
Tentative publication date: Spring 2013
Although the impact of the changing strategy of MNEs on global economic
geography is beginning to receive attention in the literature, IB scholars’
understanding of space remains relatively underdeveloped (McCann and
Mudambi, 2005). The O (Ownership) and I (Internalization) dimensions of
Dunning’s eclectic paradigm are relatively well understood compared to the L
Because of the historical role of national borders, location in IB is often
conceptualized and operationalized as a country-specific characteristic.
Spatial heterogeneity exists in IB to the extent that countries differ in
terms of their cultural and institutional framework, level of economic
development and availability of natural resources. The IB literature tends
to view space in terms of distance between countries, relying on measures
such as cultural distance, institutional distance, psychic distance,
distance between country centers, and so on. Whereas for some of these types
of distance, the country is appropriate unit of analysis, this is not
necessarily true for all. For example, the international cultural distance
between two Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden may well be
smaller than that between two Indians, one from the Hindi-speaking North and
the other from the Tamil-speaking South. Alternatively, to understand the
role of geographic distance in the Canadian automotive supply chain by
measuring the distance to the traditional industry cluster in Detroit would
miss the emerging new automotive clusters in the American South where most
non-US MNEs like Nissan, Toyota and BMW have located their assembly plants.
To improve our understanding of the spatial dimension of IB activity and the
interaction of location with governance and organization aspects of MNE
activity, we need to build on insights from economic and human geography and
regional science. By integrating IB more closely with literatures that
explicitly recognize the subtleties of geographic space, we push the
frontiers of the field. In the process, we make connections with the
emerging literature in international strategy that emphasizes the importance
of firm-level decision-making on geographical outcomes, insights that can
advance the research frontiers of economic geography (Nachum and Zaheer,
2005; Shaver and Flyer, 2000; Alcacer and Chung, 2002). At the most
fundamental level, this involves incorporating the impact of sub-national
locations on decision-making and performance of multinational enterprises
(MNEs). We contend that uniting the IB literature’s rich insights on the
organization and governance of the MNE with the nuanced analysis of space in
the economic geography literature offers great opportunities for advancing
our understanding of both internationalizing firms and locations.
Topics for the Special Issue
We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions, and papers adopting
either a single or multi level analysis. Illustrative topics are mentioned
• The 'death of distance' and ‘spiky’ global innovation; some scholars have
declared the globalized world to be flat, but at the same time the strategic
and economic importance of geographically concentrated networks of firms has
increased (e.g. Lahiri, 2010). Global connectedness is increasingly
recognized as crucial determining the position of individual clusters in the
global hierarchy (Cantwell and Janne, 1999; Meyer et al., 2011) and the
success of firms within them. For MNEs, managing a portfolio of locations
and serving as a key part of the “connective tissue” amongst clusters puts
them in a powerful position. Equally, MNEs that fail to leverage their
unique position may find themselves weaker in consequence. How does the
increased importance of connectedness affect the traditional view in IB
linking control to ownership given that connectedness does not necessarily
coincide with ownership?
• While there is a rich literature in IB on the MNE’s local embeddedness
(e.g., Andersson et al., 2002), its spatial aspects are often simply
assumed; they have rarely been distinguished or explored in an explicit
manner. Influential IB scholars have recently highlighted this lacuna
(Dunning, 2009). How is IB theory and practice affected when geographical
co-location and embeddedness are disentangled?
• From Ownership, Location and Internalization to Place, Space and
Organization (PSO); within the OLI framework the role of transaction costs
is crucial. In the core-periphery model the role of space, dominates. How
does an interpretation of transaction costs along spatial dimensions (PSO)
affect the predictions of the OLI framework?
• Distance and the liability of foreignness; distance is conceptualized as a
multidimensional construct mostly relating to inter-country characteristics.
Is it meaningful to conceptualize distance as a multidimensional construct?
Can we do a better job of disentangling these dimensions, in order to
distinguish more clearly what is attributable to geographic distance, and
what is attributable to cultural distance? E.g. the institutions of a place
may depend partly on cultural characteristics, and partly on geographic
issues such as resource availability, climate, proximity and relationship to
other places etc. So papers that better compared and related the dimensions
of distance in an IB setting might well prove foundational for other work to
be done in this domain.
• Economic geographers are concerned with firm location in general: why they
start in certain places, why they tend to stick to those locations, why they
sometimes move, why they expand by making investments in other locations and
how they organize and co-ordinate their multi-locational activities. Is the
multinational firm simply a special case of a multi-locational firm? How do
the notions of place, space and organization bear on this question?
• The role of the MNE in cluster formation; clusters are known to have life
cycles. Whereas MNEs can play a catalyzing role in the start of a cluster
and its further development, it is not clear how clusters and the
(subsidiaries of) MNEs belonging to these clusters are affected when
clusters are imploding or dissolving. Economic geography provides insights
on cluster life cycles, and the questions arise relating to MNEs’ roles in
these life cycles. More specifically, MNEs improve the external
connectivity of a cluster and we need to know more the implications of this
connectivity for the development of the cluster.
• Entry mode theory and spatial heterogeneity; entry mode theory is
dominated by the role of transaction costs in determining the optimal
governance structure. This theory and the associated empirical studies are
in general space neutral. Economic geography has shown that transaction
costs are not space neutral. How are the predictions made by entry mode
theory affected when we incorporate the notion of spatial transaction costs?
Whereas country level institutional characteristics have been incorporated
in entry mode studies, sub-national level spatial heterogeneity has so far
• Spatial antecedents and consequences of geographical value chain
disaggregation; as value chains are increasingly disaggregated into
activities, projects and tasks, the internal networks of MNEs are becoming
more open and increasingly decentralized. What does this likely imply for
the international locational dispersion of activity across the full networks
orchestrated by MNEs (which may include both 'internal' and 'external'
elements if we define these purely in traditional ownership terms)?
Conversely, what are the implications for locations of being relatively more
(or less) conducive to more open kinds of firm networks locally, e.g. with
respect to their IP regimes or other local institutional conditions?
In addition, we provide illustrative examples of some more general topic
• Local partners and geographic space; spatially proximate vs. spatially
distant local partners;
• The disaggregation of the value chain and the location of value creation;
• Extra-organizational knowledge spillovers in industrial
All manuscripts will be reviewed as a cohort for this special issue.
Manuscripts must be submitted in the window between November 1, 2011, and
November 18, 2011, at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jibs. All submissions
will go through the JIBS regular double-blind review process and follow the
standard norms and processes.
For more information about this Call for Papers, please contact the Special
Issue Editors or the JIBS Managing Editor ([log in to unmask]).
Alcacer, J. and Chung, W. 2002. Knowledge seeking and location choice of
foreign direct investment in the United States. Management Science, 48(12):
Andersson, U., Forsgren, M. and Holm, U. 2002. The strategic impact of
external networks – subsidiary performance and competence development in the
multinational corporation. Strategic Management Journal, 23(11): 979-996.
Beugelsdijk, S., McCann, P., and Mudambi, R. 2010. Place, space and
organization; economic geography and the multinational enterprise. Journal
of Economic Geography 10(4): 485-493.
Buckley, P.J. 2009. The impact of the global factory on economic
development. Journal of World Business, 44(2): 131-143.
Buckley, P.J. and Ghauri, P. 2004. Globalisation, economic geography and the
strategy of multinational enterprises. Journal of International Business
Studies, 35( 2): 81-98.
Cantwell, J.A. 2009. Location and the multinational enterprise. Journal of
International Business Studies, 40(1): 35-41.
Cantwell, J.A. and Janne, O. 1999. Technological globalisation and
innovative centres: the role of corporate technological leadership and
locational hierarchy. Research Policy, 28(2-3): 119-144.
Coe, N., Kelly, P. and Yeung, H. 2007. Economic geography: a contemporary
introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.
Dicken, P. 2007. Global shift: mapping the changing contours of the world
economy. New York: Guilford Press.
Dunning, J.H. 1998. Location and the multinational enterprise: A neglected
Journal of International Business Studies, 29(1): 45-66.
Dunning, J.H. (ed.) 2000. Regions, globalization and the knowledge-based
economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dunning, J.H. 2009. Location and the multinational enterprise: John
Dunning's thoughts on receiving the Journal of International Business
Studies 2008 Decade Award. Journal of International Business Studies, 40(1):
Glaeser, E.L., Kallal, H.D., Scheinkman, J.A. and Shleifer, A. 1992. Growth
in cities. Journal of Political Economy, 100(6): 1126-1152.
Hymer, S. 1970. The efficiency contradictions of multinational corporations.
American Economic Review, 60(2): 441-448.
Lahiri, N. 2010. Geographic distribution of R&D activity: how does it affect
innovation quality? Academy of Management Journal, 53(5): 1194-1209.
Marshall, A. 1920. Industry and trade. London: Macmillan.
McCann, P. and Mudambi, R. 2005. Analytical differences in the economics of
geography: The case of the multinational firm. Environment and Planning A,
Meyer, K.E., Mudambi, R. and Narula, R. 2011. Multinational enterprises and
local contexts: the opportunities and challenges of multiple-embeddedness.
Journal of Management Studies, forthcoming,
Nachum, L. and Zaheer, S. 2005. The persistence of distance? The impact of
technology on MNE motivations for foreign investment. Strategic Management
Journal, 26(8): 747-767.
Porter, M.E., 2000. Location, competition, and economic development: local
clusters in a global economy. Economic Development Quarterly, 14(1): 15-34.
Porter, M. E. 2003. The economic performance of regions. Regional Studies,
Sassen, S. 1991. The global city: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton:
Princeton University Press.
Shaver, J.M. and Flyer, F. 2000. Agglomeration economies, firm
heterogeneity, and foreign direct investment in the United States. Strategic
Management Journal, 21(12): 1175-1193.
Zaheer, S. 1995. Overcoming the liability of foreignness. Academy of
Management Journal, 38(2): 341-363.
Managing Editor, Journal of International Business Studies
JIBS Editorial Office
Academy of International Business
Michigan State University
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