MARCH 29th-31st 2012, LIVERPOOL, UK


Track Organizers (in Alphabetical Order)

Ödül Bozkurt, Lancaster University Management School
Chul Chung, Lancaster University Management School
Sadhvi Dar, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London
James Faulconbridge, Lancaster Environment Centre and Geography, Lancaster University
Arjan Keizer, Manchester Business School
Ayºe Saka-Helmhout, The Surrey Business School

The coherence and essence of International Business and Management (henceforth IB/M) as an academic discipline have long been the subject of debate, but by and large the accepted canon of the field has leaned heavily towards a strategic, managerialist orientation. In the meantime, a critical turn has gained momentum and indeed become increasingly integral to management scholarship (Fournier and Grey, 2000) and its various subspecializations--especially organization theory and studies, but also HRM, marketing, and accounting/finance, over the past several decades, particularly in the UK and Europe. The adoption of critical perspectives in IB/M has been curiously delayed by comparison. Recent years, however, have witnessed the rapid development of a critical sensibility around the economic, political, cultural and societal impacts of international business and its lynchpin institution, the multinational enterprise (henceforth MNE), in the popular consciousness and academic domains alike. Innovative and insightful treatments of hitherto neglected dimensions of international business around issues ranging from power and agency (eg Geppert and Dörrenbächer, 2011), spatiality (eg Morgan, 2001), mobilities (eg Kesselring and Vogel, 2010), history (eg Cooke, 2003; Jack and Westwood, 2008), institutions and legitimacy (eg Jackson and Deeg, 2008), corporate governance (eg Kolk, 2008 ), to (financial) crisis (eg Ackroyd and Murphy, Forthcoming; Cairns and Roberts, 2009), among others, mark the arrival of a vibrant, timely and fruitful research agenda for critical perspectives in IB/M scholarship.

The Special Track aims to provide a platform for the presentation of a wide range of research informed by this emergent critical agenda at the AIB-UK and Ireland Annual Conference 2012. This is with a view to precipitating dialogue not only between participants sharing similar perspectives, but crucially, across the field. Indeed, there has been a critical "voice" within IB/M almost from its inception, certainly in the Hymerian tradition (e.g. Hymer, 1970) and as recently pursued, for example, through a critical view of global value chain analysis (Levy, 2008; Yamin, 2011). While we believe it is important to acknowledge such "home -grown" critical input within the more established IB/M debates, theoretical and empirical bridges remain wanting between its insights and the recent reframings referenced above. The emergent critical perspectives in IB/M are not defined solely by the novelty of subject matters, i.e. taking up somewhat eclectic and idiosyncratic questions. On the contrary, the critical gaze is cast upon some of the most traditional and core IB/M topics and themes, for example culture and institutions, whose conceptualization and investigation have typically been too narrowly confined to a focus on the economics-driven aspects of MNE activity. In other words, these critical perspectives do not occupy a "parallel" domain of theory and research; they very much intersect and engage with well-established IB/M debates.

There are numerous ways in which "critical perspectives" can be delineated. In this Special Track we see them, though varied, as sharing one or more of several key characteristics. Firstly, a critical perspective in IB/M moves away from the narrow and often exclusive attention paid to the commercial, financial (ie strategic) "success" of the firm as the ultimate goal of research and analysis. Rather, the focus shifts to the interplay between the dynamics of international business and the social contexts, institutional spheres and individual lives across and through which these dynamics unfold. Secondly, with this expanded definition of what is to be understood, the unit of analysis and the methods of investigation have to be redefined, too. Such inquiry becomes possible through interdisciplinarity, and particularly engagement with the paradigms, debates and research tools of the social sciences including history, politics, sociology and geography. Finally, we envision that the "critical" by its nature involves "critique"-not of techniques of conducting IB/M, but of its claims to legitimacy, its handling of power, its dictated norms of conduct and ethics, and various aspects of its intricate and influential relationship with society at large.

The Special Track will comprise of two plenary sessions and three regular paper sessions. It is intended that it becomes a regular event at the AIB-UK and Ireland conferences in the future, and evolves into a stable platform for the presentation of a range of critical research and scholarship on IB/M themes on an ongoing basis. It is also intended that the regular paper sessions, and in particular the two thematic sessions, as detailed below, provide the foundation for subsequent collaborative publication efforts in the form of special journal issues and/or edited volumes.


Two plenary sessions will reflect on the implications of adopting a critical perspective in a key area of IB/M research. These presentations, taken together, will help lay out how the taken for granted assumptions and/or dismissals of mainstream IB/M can be problematized and the scope and reach of the field expanded for further inquiry. The themes and speakers are the following:

            Spatiality and Mobilities: Prof. Andrew Jones, Birkbeck, University of London

            History: Prof Bill Cooke, Lancaster University Management School

            Institutions: Dr Ayºe Saka-Helmhout, The Surrey Business School

            Culture and Identity: (TBC)

            Methodology: Prof Rebecca Piekkari, Aalto University School of Economics

            Commentary: Prof Glenn Morgan, Cardiff Business School


We invite paper submissions for three regular paper sessions as described below:

1-) Open-Theme Regular Paper Session on Critical Perspectives in IB/M
Session Coordinators: Ödül Bozkurt, Chul Chung and Sadhvi Dar

This session invites papers that are intellectually aligned with the remit of the track as outlined above. The themes, topics and questions that the submissions may address are, but not limited to, the following:

-        ** The larger role and significance of IB/M and particularly MNE activities in societal change and transformation

-        ** The role and significance of history in IB/M

-        ** The nature of the relationship between national and supranational governance structures/regulatory bodies and MNEs

-        ** The integration of new segments of the global economy into IB flows and activities

-        ** Transnational business communities: their forms, politics and effects

-        ** Financialization and IB/M

-        ** New organizational forms, such as NGOs and NPOs within the field of IB/M

-        ** Power relationships and inequalities implicated, reinforced, challenged or negotiated within the conduct of IB/M

-        ** The forging of worker and consumer identities through IB/M and MNE activity

-        ** Gender, class and race dimensions of MNE employment and other employment generated and threatened by the conduct of IB/M

-        ** The global dominance of English as the language of business and linguistic struggles inside the MNE

-        ** New methodological approaches to studying the workings of IB/M

2-) Regular Paper Session on  Spatiality, Mobilities and Critical Perspectives in IB/M
Session Coordinator: James Faulconbridge

The concepts of space and spatiality have been used to develop critical perspectives on IB/M in multiple ways. For instance, the socially and economically constructed spaces of the multinational and international business communities have been theorized (Morgan, 2001) in order to more carefully unpack how the (uneven, gendered etc) architecture of the global economy is produced. Spatiality has also been analysed through reference to the diverse forms of embeddedness (Hess, 2004) that shape IB activities and  the multiple local "games" that the MNE must participate in and manage (Kristensen and Zeitlin, 2005). These are just two examples of the many ways that space and spatiality can be employed to enrich our understanding of the architecture, geography, politics and impacts of IB/M. At the same time, the "mobilities turn" in the social sciences (Sheller and Urry, 2006) has offered a new way of thinking about how spatiality is constructed in international business communities and MNEs. The role of communications technologies, embodied mobility in the form of business travel and expatriation, and the construction through "non-human" objects of transnational business spaces have all led to more nuanced understandings of the operation and effects of IB/M (e.g., Millar and Salt, 2008; Wickham and Vecchi, 2009). This session offers a forum for papers that demonstrate the value of studies of the spaces of IB/M and MNEs, sophisticated conceptualizations of the spatiality of IB and MNEs, and/or the untangling of the role of mobility in constructing international business processes.

3-) Regular Paper Session on Critical Approaches to Understanding Institutions in IB/M
Session Coordinators: Ayºe Saka-Helmhout and Arjan Keizer

Institutional theory has provided a rich theoretical foundation in MNE research (e.g. Dacin et al., 2002). However, most IB scholars have adopted a narrow view of institutions drawing predominantly on the institutional economics understanding of institutions as "rules of the game" (North, 1990). They study institutions in terms of how diverse regulatory rules and legal norms affect the performance of MNEs (e.g. Brouthers, 2002) or expose firms to hazards of a political nature hazards (e.g. Delios and Henisz, 2000). Accordingly, institutions are understood as constraints on MNE activity through transaction costs, differing resource environments or institutional distance. This view reduces our understanding of agency to efforts by organizations to legitimize and enhance their likelihood of survival. However, achieving and maintaining legitimacy are difficult for MNEs given their operation in multiple, fragmented, often conflicting institutional environments (Kostova et al., 2008). This calls for an alternative conceptualization of institutions where actors are both enabled and constrained by institutions. For instance, developments in both the entrepreneurship literature (e.g. Bruton and Ahlstrom, 2003) and comparative institutional analysis (e.g. Streeck and Thelen, 2005) shed light on how institutions originate and evolve by introducing more agency into the creation and change of institutions. This session will host papers that further these developments to bring a new understanding to the idea of agency in MNEs. Our aim is to encourage the conceptualization of and the presentation of empirical evidence for institutions that challenge the "distance minimization" view of agency in IB/M to highlight their enabling, capability-building and change-facilitating nature, and thereby help us move towards a better understanding of the variation in agency across firms that are embedded in different institutional contexts.


All papers should be submitted to the AIB-UK and Ireland 2012 Main Conference, through the link on the conference website,<>. Please indicate if you wish your paper to be considered for the Special Track on CPiIB/M, and whether you intend to participate in the open-theme or thematic sessions. The deadline for submissions is Monday 16th January 2012.
All further details about conference registration, as well as accommodation and travel details, are available through the conference website. Please note that registration will remain open until March 15, 2012.


You can direct any specific queries about the track and the open-theme session to Ödül Bozkurt at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>, Chul Chung at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]> or Sadhvi Dar at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>.

For any queries about the thematic session on Spatiality and Mobilities and Critical Perspectives in IB/M, please contact James Faulconbridge at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>.

For any queries about the thematic session on Critical Approaches to Understanding Institutions in IB/M please contact Ayºe Saka-Helmhout at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]> or Arjan Keizer at [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>.


Ackroyd, S. and Murphy, J. (eds.) (Forthcoming) Special Issue of Critical Perspectives on
            International Business: Transnational Corporations, Socio-Economic Change and
            Recurrent Crisis

Brouthers,K.D.(2002).Institutional, cultural and transaction cost influences on entry mode
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Bruton, G. D. and Ahlstrom, D. (2003). An institutional view of China's venture capital
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Cairns, G. and Roberts, J. (eds) (2009) Special Issue of Critical Perspectives on International
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Cooke, B. (2003) The denial of slavery in Management Studies. Journal of Management
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Dacin, M. T., Goodstein, J. and Scott, W. (2002). Institutional theory and institutional
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Delios, A., and Henisz, W. J. (2000). Japanese firms' investment strategies in emerging
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Fournier, V, and Grey, C. (2000) At the critical moment: Conditions and prospects for critical
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Geppert and Dörrenbächer (eds.) (2011) Politics and Power in the Multinational
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Hess, M. (2004). 'Spatial' relationships?  Towards a reconceptualization of embeddedness.
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Hymer, S. (1970). The efficiency (contradictions) of multinational corporations. The
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Jack, G. and Westwood, R. (2008) International and Cross-Cultural Management Studies: A
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Jackson, G. and Deeg, R. (2008). Comparing capitalisms: Understanding institutional
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Kesselring, S. and Vogel, G. (2010). 'Traveling, where the opponents are': Business
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Kolk, A. (2008). Sustainability, accountability and corporate governance: Exploring
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Kostova, T., Kendall, R. and Dacin, M. T. (2008). Institutional theory in the study of
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Kristensen, P.H. and Zeitlin, J. (2005): Local Players in Global Games: The Strategic
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Levy, D. L. (2008). Political contestation in global production networks. Academy of
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Millar, J. and Salt, J. (2008) Portfolios of mobility: the movement of expertise in
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Morgan, G. (2001) Transnational communities and business systems. Global Networks: A
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North, D. C. (1990). Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance.
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Streeck, W. and Thelen, K. (2005). Beyond Continuity: Explorations in the Dynamics of
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Wickham, J. and Vecchi, A. (2009) The importance of business travel for industrial clusters-
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Yamin , M (2011) A commentary on Peter Buckley's writings on the Global Factory.
            Management International Review, 51,285-293.

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