Special Issue of the Journal of International Business Studies






Special Issue Editors:


*         Shaker A. Zahra (University of Minnesota, USA,
<mailto:[log in to unmask]> [log in to unmask])

*         Olga Petricevic (University of Calgary, Canada,
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*         Yadong Luo (University of Miami, USA,  <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
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*         Maurizio Zollo (Bocconi University, Italy,
<mailto:[log in to unmask]> [log in to unmask]) 


Deadline for submission: December 23, 2017


Tentative publication date:   Spring 2019




All businesses, domestic and international, need dynamic capabilities to
sustainably grow in complex and changing environments (Helfat et al., 2007;
Zahra, Sapienza, & Davidssson, 2006; Teece, Pisano, & Shuen, 1997; Zollo &
Winter, 2002). Yet, such capabilities are deemed to be even more important
for multinational enterprises (MNEs), both nascent and established. As firms
operate and compete globally, their adaptation to the changing conditions in
their external environment becomes more challenging. Cross-border
development, deployment, orchestration, and recombination of their critical
resource bundles also become more sophisticated yet more vital. For the last
two decades, and since the seminal article by Teece et al., (1997), research
on dynamic capabilities has primarily been conducted in the mainstream
strategic management field. Whilst research in international business (IB)
has offered some preliminary insights into the role of dynamic capabilities
in identifying and explaining the antecedents, processes, and consequences
of cross-national business activities of MNEs and international new ventures
(INVs) (e.g., Al-Aali & Teece, 2014; Augier & Teece, 2007; Lessard, Teece, &
Leih, 2016b; Luo, 2000; Pitelis & Teece, 2010; Prashantham & Floyd, 2012;
Sapienza, Autio, George, & Zahra, 2006; Teece, 2014; Weerawardena, Mort,
Liesch, & Knight, 2007), these prior efforts have largely remained at the
conceptual level. 


In the IB literature, the concept of dynamic capabilities has been related
by some to the concept of firm-specific advantages (FSAs) (Rugman & Verbeke,
2001; 2003), whereby FSAs, broadly defined, largely reflect bundles of
resources combined into unique capabilities.  Such capabilities, to the
extent that they are non-location bound, are dynamic in nature, because of
the need for continuous resource recombination when operating across
borders, and can lead to evolutionary fitness (Helfat et al., 2007; Narula &
Verbeke, 2015). As Rugman, Verbeke, and Nguyen (2011) have noted, the
contemporary focus of IB research has moved towards a nuanced understanding
of the manner in which MNEs in home and host countries interact to develop
novel recombination of country specific advantages (CSAs) and FSAs possessed
by globally dispersed MNE units. Several scholars have also recognized that
dynamic capability thinking can lead to effective approaches for specifying
and studying the nature, the role, and the effects, of future-oriented
endowments of resources bundles – and related FSAs – in explaining IB
processes and outcomes (Augier and Teece, 2007; Peng, 2001; Teece, 2014).
Furthermore, dynamic capability thinking can also sharpen a company’s global
vision toward knowledge improvement and resource deployment that captures
both local adaptation and global integration (Luo, 2000). In this spirit, IB
as a field of study can be greatly enriched by amplifying critical themes
that are specific to MNEs and unveiling actionable insight for dynamic
capability development through application of multi-disciplinary


Despite the strong conceptual link between dynamic capability thinking and
IB research questions, the extant research on dynamic capabilities in the IB
realm remains very fragmented. There is a paucity of strong, nuanced, and
actionable research for applying, operationalizing, testing, and extending
the dynamic capability construct and its constituent elements in the IB
context. Little research has investigated how the process of capability
reconfiguration in the competing mandates of both localization and
globalization really works. There is also an absence of empirically-based,
systematic, structured, and practical approaches embodying both analytical
rigor and practical relevance of dynamic capabilities research for MNEs. In
other words, there has been a lack of work focused on making dynamic
capabilities actionable, so as to help both scholars and practitioners
navigate successfully the complex landscape of IB, and to delineate both the
contributions and boundaries (or limitations) of the dynamic capability
perspective for IB research and practice. 


Compared with domestic firms, there are likely more opportunities as well as
more challenges for MNEs to recombine (whether in the form of locally
adapting, globally integrating, reconfiguring, or upgrading) those resource
bundles needed for prevailing vis-à-vis rivals (Luo, 2000; Lessard et al.,
2016b; Zollo, Bettinazzi, Neumann, & Snoeren, 2016). Any MNE must develop,
deploy, orchestrate and recombine critical resource bundles across borders
in a coordinated fashion to bolster the achievement of global economies of
scale and scope in a cross-border context. Extended market opportunities
resulting from internationalization provide MNEs with greater prospects to
leverage and capitalize on both existing and new capabilities. MNEs also can
garner and utilize more and better global input resources needed for
capability upgrading. However, requirements for regional, national and
subnational responsiveness typically call for creative and timely resource
recombination. Making dynamic capabilities actionable for geographically
dispersed, cross-border businesses is therefore complex, involving head
office-driven planning and resources orchestration, but also internal
differentiation and local adaptation (Birkinshaw & Hood, 1998; Dunning &
Lundan, 2010; Jensen & Szulanski, 2004; Teece, 2014; Yiu, Lau, & Bruton,
2007). This complexity is further amplified by the fact that dynamic
capability is a continuous and closed loop process for MNEs, such that newly
upgraded capabilities need to be redeployed from global centers or hubs of
excellence to other regions and countries, whereby the process of continuous
reconfiguration becomes essential. This Special Issue welcomes submissions
that advance theoretical and empirical understanding of the intrinsic
processes, paths, conditions, catalysts, actions, and consequences of
dynamic capability development and the related cross-border deployment,
orchestration and recombination of critical resource bundles.   


New global business realities prompt us to investigate how to make dynamic
capabilities more actionable. New patterns of global competition (e.g.,
disruptive technologies, digitized globalization, new IB players, fast
market changes, catchup of foreign laggards, and institutional complexity)
make a focus on cross-border resource development, deployment,
orchestration, and recombination more imperative than ever before. For
instance, new global connectivity – a digital form of globalization that
connects nations, industries, companies, and individuals all over the world
with flows of data, information and knowledge, as well as flows of goods,
services, investment, and capital that are digitally supported – may result
in new opportunities for MNEs (large or small, nascent or established) in
digitally deploying their dynamic capabilities across business units
situated in various countries and regions. This connectivity allows MNEs to
better interact and coordinate with spatially distant corporate members and
global partners, allowing for easier dissemination of information on dynamic
capability development processes. MNEs need a new and dynamic connectivity
capability to identify new opportunities in technologies, markets and
partnerships, in order to provide new value propositions to global customers
(Cano-Kollmann, Cantwell, Harrigan, Mudambi & Song, 2016). Furthermore,
different organizational forms, ownership structures, and subsidiary types
(e.g., IJVs, wholly-owned, cooperative alliances, partial acquisitions,
minority equity investments, etc.) pose additional complexities in
development and deployment of the MNE’s critical resource bundles.
Capability deployment, including technology transfer, also becomes
multi-directional through multiple centers or hubs of excellence rather than
only one-directional from corporate headquarters or those units co-located
at home. In order to better understand these emerging trends in the IB
literature, we invite submissions that examine actionable strategic
processes and behaviors of dynamic capability development, accounting for
not only existing IB theories but also the new global reality that provokes
MNEs to develop dynamic capabilities more effectively and efficiently. 


Making dynamic capability actionable compels MNEs to organize global
operations in ways that are efficient, resilient, integrated and
streamlined. MNEs must deal with a diversity of network participants and an
intricate web of inter-firm and intra-firm linkages in the course of
cultivating dynamic capabilities (Teece, 2014). Frontier subsidiaries in
various hubs or countries need to swiftly respond both locally and
adaptively, and to utilize global platforms and architecture that ensures
integration as well (Birkinshaw & Hood, 1998). Dynamic capability compels
MNEs to progress toward a less hierarchical structure and an increased
reliance on data and knowledge flows within the organization. Recombining
critical resource bundles further requires MNEs to locate key activities
closer to demand and critical markets. In this process, an MNE’s
orchestration capability is vital. Orchestration requires the MNE to possess
tacit expertise as well as procedural knowledge (Chetty, Eriksson, &
Lindbergh, 2006; Dhanaraj & Parkhe, 2006). Yet, little research has sought
to understand the appropriate organizational structure, organizational
behavior and orchestration capability that are necessary to foster the
dynamic capability development. 


Making dynamic capability actionable is inherently an entrepreneurial
pursuit. In fact, Teece (2016) suggests that entrepreneurial managers are
key component of the dynamic capabilities framework, while Zahra et al.
(2006) elaborate on the role of dynamic capabilities in understanding how
new firms continuously create, discover and exploit entrepreneurial
opportunities. As a result, entrepreneurial managers and entrepreneurial
actions have been elevated to the central status in the development of
dynamic capabilities in both established and new ventures (Teece, 2012,
2016). Challenges of operating in a cross-border environment coupled with
the liabilities of foreignness, newness and smallness (Zahra, 2005) further
amplify the need for understanding the role of entrepreneurs as well as
INVs’ behaviors and processes that may foster or impede dynamic capability
development. Yet, the fast growing area of international entrepreneurship
has yet to recognize the importance of integrating dynamic capabilities in
its research.  To better understand the complexities of dynamic capability
development in INVs and other companies engaged in international
entrepreneurship activities, this Special Issue encourages submissions that
probe dynamic capability from multiple and cross-disciplinary perspectives
such as organizational behavior, entrepreneurship, global value chain
management, and human resources management, among others.   


Even though Helfat et al. (2007) have acknowledged that evolutionary fitness
of dynamic capabilities depends on the appropriate alignment with the
context in which the organization operates, in their recent article Lessard,
Teece, and Leih (2016a: 166) suggest that MNEs are becoming context
independent. Furthermore, Zollo et al. (2016) suggest that as MNEs adapt,
their dynamic capabilities span two very different internal contexts (i.e.,
enterprise models). All of these raise interesting questions regarding the
role and effects that context plays in helping firms develop, deploy,
reconfigure, and recombine critical resource bundles necessary to navigate
the complexities of the IB landscape and to achieve sustainable competitive
advantage in cross-border settings. This Special Issue invites submissions
that could answer several questions in this regard: How does the IB context
influence the role and effect of dynamic capabilities? What are the
managerial actions that capitalize on the effect of this context? Relatedly,
how do these actions and processes differ across contexts, such as born
global and emerging market firms? Further, what is the relative importance
of internal versus external contexts in this regard? 


Please see the full call for papers at  <>
for issue themes/topics, references, and guest editor biographies.


Submission Process and Deadlines

All manuscripts will be reviewed as a cohort for this Special Issue.
Manuscripts must be submitted between December 12–23, 2017, at
All submissions will go through the JIBS regular double-blind review process
and follow the standard norms and processes.


The Special Issue Editors will organize a formal workshop for the papers
that pass the first round of reviews to discuss these further and to provide
editorial guidance for additional revisions.  This workshop will be
organized just before the AIB 2018 annual conference (June 25–28, 2018) in


For more information about this Call for Papers, please contact the Special
Issue Editors or the JIBS Managing Editor (
<mailto:[log in to unmask]> [log in to unmask]).



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