Dear AIB Community,
We are pleased to send you the Call for Papers for next year’s iBEGIN Conference which will directly precede the AIB Annual Meeting at the Copenhagen Business School on June 22-23. A great opportunity to do back-to-back conferences and extend your stay in one of Europe’s “hottest” capitals!
Ari, Ram and Henrik
International Business, Economic Geography and Innovation
Ports versus Portals: International Connectivity and the Bundling of Tangibles and Intangibles
June 22-23, 2019
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Since 2013, the iBEGIN community has aimed to integrate research on the intersection of the three fields of international business, economic geography, and technology/innovation studies. In addition to the conference theme, we welcome all paper submissions that address the broader iBEGIN research agenda.
Scholars have analyzed the role of advances in information and communication technology as a driver of dramatic changes in business processes and organization (Alcacer et al., 2016; Brynjolfsson & McAfee, 2014; Leamer & Storper, 2001). The emergence of global value chains and the resulting co-evolution of firms and locations may be seen as a particular case of this wide-ranging megatrend (Cano-Kollmann et al., 2016; Turkina & Van Assche, 2018). An exponential growth in computing power combined with an equally impressive expansion in the network capacity have dramatically reduced both the costs and risks of transmitting codified knowledge across borders. These trends have facilitated MNEs’ ability to tap into previously non-accessible knowledge pockets, allowing them to build key complementarities between intangible assets from different locations (Bathelt et al., 2004; Zhao, 2006).
However, long before information technology began to play a significant role in international business, another type of network undergirded the global economy: maritime transportation networks (Heaver, 2010). While it is well-known that modern international business dates to the dawn of the industrial revolution in the 18th century (Hummels, 2007), the role of the transportation infrastructure, beginning with the clipper ships that carried tea from ports in China and India to the pool of London, has long been “taken for granted”. Driven by technological and organizational innovations, the user cost of this transportation network has fallen over the centuries, with some discontinuous sharp drops. These include major advances in the mid-20th century like containerization (Levinson, 2006; Pedersen and Sornn-Friese, 2015) and the invention of the jet engine (Bernhofen, et al. 2016; Hummels, 2007). The transportation network continues to service international business to this day, ensuring the delivery of its tangible component. This more traditional backbone of international business corresponds in many ways to the Internet backbone laid down at the end of the 20th century and expanded thereafter.
Transportation networks, originally made up of ports and sea lanes and connected through a complex web of agents and intermediaries, but increasingly supplemented with airports and aviation routes are not only important for the transmission of bulky commodity products like coal, iron ore and grain, but are also crucial for knowledge-intensive industries. This is because many knowledge-creating activities need to be bundled with tangible assets for them to be developed, transferred, and often even for them to have meaning. For instance, R&D centers consistently require tangible inputs for the development of new ideas and products (Hannigan & Mudambi, 2015; Pisano & Shih, 2009). Furthermore, MNEs often embed new knowledge that is transferred to foreign partners within the tangible goods that they export (Keller, 2004). A MNE’s ability to develop a global knowledge network should therefore not only be a function of the availability of electronic connectivity, but also on its access to the global network of maritime ports and airports and their hinterlands.
Data from the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (Arvis et al., 2018) and UNCTAD’s Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (Hoffmann, 2012) suggest that there is wide heterogeneity in seaport and airport performance around the world. These performance gaps matter for trade, especially within global supply chains. Superior logistics performance is closely associated with bilateral trade growth (Hoekman & Nicita, 2011). A location’s ability to export rapidly is at least as important a source of comparative advantage as the costs of labor, capital and other inputs (Gamberoni et al., 2010; Ma & Van Assche, 2016). This reinforces the point that good logistics performance is a necessary, but often overlooked condition for setting up well-functioning global supply chains (Schotter & Beamish, 2013).
Recent studies add that physical port heterogeneity is taking a new turn. Rather than serving as vertically integrated hubs that compete with one another, but differ in quality and price, seaports are increasingly specializing in particular horizontal niches (Jacobs & Lagendijk, 2014). They are collaborating with each other to offer complementary regional logistics solutions, resulting in increased efficiency. Other studies point out that the cost of moving tangibles is not only a function of infrastructure, but also of industrial organization forces. The ownership of multiple port terminals by multinational entities that implement regional rationalization strategies reinforces the process of port complementarity (Hall & Jacobs, 2010). At the same time, while today’s container shipping industry is characterized by more pro-competitive, cooperative arrangements (consortia, vessel sharing agreements, and strategic alliances), a high proportion of maritime liner shipping was historically priced by conferences, facilitating collusion and anti-competitive pricing (Hummels et al., 2009). This is a response to persistent over-capacity and repeated Bertrand-type “race-to-the-bottom” experiences of the major industry players (Wu, 2012). There is similar evidence in air transport (Micco & Serebrisky, 2006).
Nonetheless, few studies have jointly analyzed the human, physical and digital infrastructural networks and their link with global knowledge and value creation. This is particularly important given that we have established that co-terminus nature of physical and digital networks. Our reading of the current literatures leads us to conclude that this lacuna may be the result of the disciplinary focus of most research. Hence we would like to expect inter-, multi-, and cross-disciplinary approaches to yield important new insights. The foundational disciplines of iBEGIN (international business, economic geography and innovation studies) form the starting point, but we expect that this exercise will also be informed by many others, like comparative political economy, economic and business history, international economics and supply chain management.
There are a number of crucial questions related to the conference theme that we believe are important for both theory and policy:
· How dependent are intangibles on tangibles for their value creation? Are these tangibles disproportionately sourced locally or imported?
· How important is goods trade for the inter-firm transfer of intangible knowledge
· How does maritime and air connectivity matter for a location’s innovation performance and international innovation partnerships?
· How has the structure of the maritime and air transport network evolved, and why?
· How does spatial heterogeneity at different geographical scales drive the location choice and network design of terminal operators, shipping lines and air cargo companies?
· What is the role of the network of representatives, branch offices and third-party intermediaries established by shipping lines, as well as their collaborators in conferences, consortia and alliances in shaping the shipping lines’ internationalization strategies?
· Have ports and clusters changed their international connectivity strategies in response to global value chains and the rising importance of intangibles?
· What are the internationalization strategies of multinational port terminal operators, shipping lines and air cargo companies?
· How can government policy strengthen locations’ logistics performance (in terms of liner and air shipping connectivity) in the era of global value chains?
Submission of extended abstracts: February 1, 2019
Authors notified by: February 15, 2019
Conference dates: June 22-23, 2019.
Submit extended abstracts to: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Submission format: extended abstracts (“SMS-style” submissions – 5-7 pages)
Program Co-chairs: Henrik Sornn-Friese ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>) and Ari Van Assche ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>)
iBEGIN Convener: Ram Mudambi ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>)
Alcacer, J., Cantwell, J., & Piscitello, L. 2016. Internationalization in the information age: a new era for places, firms and international business networks? Journal of International Business Studies, 47(5): 499-512.
Arvis, J. F., Ojala, L., Wiederer, C., Shepherd, B., Raj, A., Dairabayeva, K., & Kiiski, T. (2018). Connecting to Compete 2018: Trade Logistics in the Global Economy. World Bank.
Bathelt, H., Malmberg, A., & Maskell, P. 2004. Clusters and knowledge: local buzz, global pipelines and the process of knowledge creation. Progress in Human Geography, 28(1): 31-56.
Bernhofen, D., El-Sahli, Z., & Kneller, R. 2016. Estimating the effect of the container revolution on world trade. Journal of International Economics, 98(1): 36-50.
Brynjolfsson, E. & McAfee, A. 2014. The second machine age: work, progress and prosperity in a time of brilliant technologies. WW. Norton & Co.
Cano-Kollmann, M., Cantwell, J., Hannigan, T.J., Mudambi, R. & Song, J. 2016. Knowledge connectivity: an agenda for innovation research international business. Journal of International Business Studies, 47(3): 255-263.
Gamberoni, E., Lanz, R., & Piermartini, R. 2010. Timeliness and contract enforceability in intermediate goods trade. WTO Working Paper ERSD-2010-14.
Hall, P. & Jacobs, W. 2010. Shifting proximities: the maritime port sector in an era of global supply chains. Regional Studies, 44(9): 1103-115.
Hannigan, T.J. & Mudambi, R. 2015. Local R&D won’t help you go global. Harvard Business Review online, June 25.
Heaver, T. D. 2010. The Dynamic Role of International Shipping in Business Structures and Relationships. In Van de Voorde, E. & Vanelslander, T. (eds.), Applied Transport Economics. Uitgeverji De Boeck.
Hoekman, B. & Nicita, A. 2011. Trade policy, trade costs and developing country trade.
World Development, 39(12): 2069-2079.
Hoffmann, J. 2012. Corridors of the Sea: An investigation into liner shipping connectivity. In Alix, Y (ed.), Les Corridors de Transport. EMS.
Hummels, D. 2007. Transportation costs and international trade in the second era of globalization. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(3): 131-154.
Hummels, D., Lugovskyy, V. & Skiba, A. 2009. The trade reducing effects of market power in international shipping. Journal of Development Economics, 89(1): 84-97.
Jacobs, W. & Lagendijk, A. 2014. Strategic coupling as capacity: how seaports connect to global flows of containerized transport. Global Networks, 14(1): 44-62.
Keller, W. 2004. International technology diffusion. Journal of Economic Literature, 42(3): 752-782.
Leamer, E. E., & Storper, M. 2001. The economic geography of the Internet age. Journal of International Business Studies, 32(4): 641-665.
Levinson, M. 2006. The Box. How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger. Princeton University Press.
Ma, A. & Van Assche, A. 2016. Spatial linkages and export processing locations in China. World Economy, 39(3): 316-338.
Micco, A. & Serebrisky, T. 2006. Competition regimes and air transport costs: the effects of open skies agreements. Journal of International Economics, 70(1): 25-51.
Pedersen, T. & Sornn-Friese, H. 2015. A Business Model Innovation by an Incumbent Late Mover: Containerization in Maersk Line. In Foss, N. & Saebi, T. (eds.), Business Model Innovation: The Organizational Dimension. Oxford University Press.
Pisano, G., & Shih, W. 2009. Restoring American competitiveness. Harvard Business Review, 87(7-8): 114-125.
Schotter, A. & Beamish, P. 2013. The hassle factor: an explanation for managerial location shunning. Journal of International Business Studies, 44(5): 521-544.
Turkina, E. & Van Assche, A. 2018. Global connectedness and local innovation in industrial clusters. Journal of International Business Studies, 49(6): 706-728.
Wu, W. (2012). Capacity utilization and its determinants for a container shipping line: theory and evidence. Applied Economics, 44(27): 3491-3502.
Zhao, M. 2006. Conducting R&D in countries with weak intellectual property rights protection. Management Science, 52(8): 1185-1199.
Ari Van Assche, Ph.D.
Department of International Business
3000, chemin de la Côte‑Sainte‑Catherine, Montréal (Québec) H3T 2A7
Téléphone : 514 340-6043 Télécopieur : 514 340-6987
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