Special Issue of the Journal of International Business Studies


Special Issue Editors
• Juan Alcacer (Harvard Business School, USA, [log in to unmask])
• John Cantwell (Rutgers Business School, USA, [log in to unmask])
• Giovanni Dosi (Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy,
[log in to unmask])
• Sergio Mariotti (Politecnico di Milano, Italy, [log in to unmask])
• Lucia Piscitello (Politecnico di Milano, Italy,
[log in to unmask])

Deadline for submission: December 31, 2013

Tentative publication date: Spring 2015

With the emergence of what many scholars call an information and
communication age, the associated changes in the character of international
business (IB) activity have been profound, as illustrated by the discussion
over the idea that the world has become flat. However, the debate about the
relative importance of various drivers behind what has sometimes been called
the third industrial revolution has been lively yet remains inconclusive.
Some of the features that have been suggested as characterizing the new age
include the following: organizational decentralization, vertical
disintegration and specialization, modularity, flexibility, accelerated
knowledge creation, exchange or diffusion, and increased knowledge
complexity, inter-organizational collaboration and openness, and various
kinds of networks. Institution settings have also changed alongside the new
wave of technological innovation, leading to changes across countries in the
mechanisms responsible for standardization, intellectual property rights,
and the institutional conditions fostering individual and local creativity
but which have also been associated with new regulatory and industrial
policies, trade policies, privatization and liberalization. Many of these
changes have facilitated the internationalization of firms.

In this context, business activity from production to knowledge creation has
come to rely on internationally highly disaggregated and geographically
dispersed value chains; and yet a continued centralization of certain
functions (including R&D, marketing and finance), as well as control over
subsidiary management and decision making. At the same time this has left
the way for corporate disaggregation, and more decentralized organizational
forms in which resources, including technology and managerial talent, might
be distributed among subsidiaries and integrated between them through strong
interdependencies. Thus, the traditional model of the MNE as a simple
hierarchy and related conceptual approaches are in danger of becoming
anachronistic and progressively less appropriate in capturing new trends and
opportunities made feasible by the new technological paradigm, which has
triggered or required new forms and processes for the international
organization of production. Flexibility, knowledge creation, collaboration
and international connections, as well as the characteristics of the
institutional contexts in which these expanded interorganizational relations
are embedded have become essential elements to be considered for the
contemporary MNE. A finer slicing of the value chain is associated with
networked forms that have shifted the boundaries of the firm. So the
contemporary MNE is defined by the orchestration of international networks
rather than merely by the international ownership of assets. 

This topic can usefully be addressed from the standpoint of several extant
streams of international business (IB) research and, in turn, it suggests
the need to develop the theory of the MNE and international production in
various new directions. The purpose of this Special Issue is to suggest how
established IB approaches can be positively adapted, revised or extended to
allow for the restructuring of MNEs and the new organizational forms of
internationalization which have arisen to better explore and exploit the
trajectories of the Information and Communication technological paradigm.
For example, the O (Ownership) advantages of Dunning’s eclectic paradigm now
consist of capabilities that are dispersed among actors which are part of a
common network, and a primary O advantage of the MNE becomes its ability to
foster innovative connections between specialized capabilities across
countries and organizations; the L (Location) dimension should allow that
location-bound characteristics alone cannot fully explain firms’ locational
strategies, and that firm-location developmental interactions must be taken
into account more fully; while the I (Internalization) dimension might be
adapted to allow for the spread of more open and informal
interorganizational relationships and networks.

In particular, we aim to encourage a multidisciplinary understanding of
these issues by integrating IB more closely with research in progress in
organization studies, and approaches from economic sociology, international
economics, strategy, management and others. The objective of the special
issue is to develop a finer-grained analysis of how the nature, boundaries
and organizational forms of the MNE have adapted to more recent
technological and institutional changes. We hope that this collection of
papers will contribute to the ongoing yet still inconclusive dialogue among
scholars in these disciplines, with the aim of constructing a more unified
body of theory and a common epistemology for thinking about the continuing
processes of transformation of IB activity. Hence, we welcome both
theoretical and empirical contributions, and papers adopting either a single
or multi-level analysis. Illustrative topics may include:

• The traditional paradigm of the MNE as a simple hierarchy had been already
questioned in the 1980s and complemented by the notion of a globally
networked transnational corporation in response to environmental forces and
simultaneous demands for global efficiency, national responsiveness, and
worldwide learning. Extending this line of reasoning, what further
restructuring of international corporations, and new organizational
processes and practices in firms’ internationalization, would be more
appropriate to exploring and exploiting the trajectories of the Information
and Communication (IC) paradigm?
• The international fragmentation of production systems and the geographical
dispersion of the value chain have opened up new scenarios and opportunities
for new actors. How has the relative relevance of location factors and
geographical hierarchies changed? How are emerging market countries
capturing these opportunities to catch up and to shift their role in global
supply/value chains? How do recent processes of backsourcing/backshoring
reflect the same changes (i.e. are they the other side of the same coin)?
• Increasing de-verticalization and modularity of products and processes
foster complex and dispersed network organizations. How do firms manage
multifaceted portfolios including various forms of corporate partnering,
external collaboration and non-equity forms across borders? What governance
structures have been adopted to manage cross-country interorganizational
networks? What creative value chain orchestration approaches are needed in
this landscape? And what are the characteristics of a wider range of
inter-organizational ties? Does the initiative for network formation come
still at the firm level, or are more disaggregated levels of analysis
needed? Are cross-boundary and cross-functional teams as well as flexible
project-based forms of organizations  more appropriate forms? 
• How do changes in the international economic, technological, and social
environment create new opportunities and roles for SMEs, international new
ventures, international entrepreneurship and global start-ups? Conversely,
what is the evolution in the role of large global companies when they
metamorphose from being primary producers and distributors to becoming
aggregators? Have they successfully developed a new capacity to act as
knowledge and capability coordinators or integrators?
• Technological revolutions and the evolution of industrial structures: How
do information and communication as well as new digital technologies change
sectoral boundaries (e.g. between manufacturing and non-manufacturing
industries), deconstruct traditional industries, and stimulate the emergence
of new sectors? Are reallocation and recombination of innovative efforts
among international intra-firm and external actors facilitated by these new
general purpose technologies?  How do changes in sectoral boundaries impact
corporate diversification and stimulate new organizational forms to manage
geographical dispersion?  
• Organizations evolve and adapt to their technological and institutional
environments, and these changes are not unidirectional. What are the
conditions enabling the harmonious co-evolution of MNE international
networks with their institutional environment and policy context? What is
the role of country-specific institutional systems? Do changes in the
relationship between the public and private spheres, such as public private
partnerships, play different roles in different industries and countries? 
• How, and to what extent, does the emergence of new manufacturing
technologies (e.g. digital manufacturing - additive manufacturing,
continuous manufacturing, collective manufacturing, crowdsourcing, cloud
computing and cloud manufacturing) lead to the international reorganization
of production networks? How, and to what extent, do information technologies
and increasing flexibility impact upon labor market and employment practices
(e.g. freelance labor and project based work when internationally managed or

Submission Process
All manuscripts will be reviewed as a cohort for this special issue.
Manuscripts must be submitted in the window between December 17, 2013, and
December 31, 2013, at 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]). 

For a list of references cited in this call and information about the Guest
Editors, please see the full call for papers available at

Anne Hoekman
Managing Editor, Journal of International Business Studies
JIBS Editorial Office
Academy of International Business
Michigan State University
Tel: +1-517-481-3518
Fax: +1-517-432-1009
Email: [log in to unmask]
Want to stay up-to-date on JIBS? Follow @JIBSupdates on Twitter!

AIB-L is brought to you by the Academy of International Business.
For information:
To post message: [log in to unmask]
For assistance:  [log in to unmask]
AIB-L is a moderated list.