The Selection Committee for the JIBS Decade Award is pleased to announce that the 2009 JIBS article “The Uppsala internationalization process model revisited: From liability of foreignness to liability of outsidership” by Jan Johanson and Jan-Erik Vahlne has been selected as the winner of the 2019 JIBS Decade Award.


The award, sponsored by Palgrave Macmillan, is designed to recognize the most influential paper published in the Journal of International Business Studies ten years prior and is presented at the annual AIB conference. In order to be considered for the JIBS Decade Award, an article must be one of the five most cited articles published in JIBS for the year being considered. This year’s Selection Committee members were Nicole Coviello (Chair, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), the current AIB Program Chair (Maria Tereza Fleury, Escola de Administracão de Empresas de São Paulo, Brazil) and immediate past AIB Program Chair (J.T. Li, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology). JIBS Editor-in-Chief Alain Verbeke was an ex officio, non-voting committee member.


In recommending the award-winning article, the committee noted that, “Johanson and Vahlne (2009) offer a timely reflection on how the research frontiers of international business have changed since publication of their seminal 1977 article. This leads them to thoughtfully reconsider their original arguments, noting if and how their initial assumptions – based on a study of Swedish-owned subsidiaries abroad- require updating. In so doing, Johanson and Vahlne demonstrate an important characteristic of strong scholarship: the willingness and ability of scholars to move forward from early contributions to acknowledge and incorporate new insights that emerged with the passage of time.


“Johanson and Vahlne’s 2009 paper has substantially impacted research within and outside international business. It is used by researchers publishing in marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship, management, small business management, family business, and innovation management (among others).


“The 2009 paper revisits the 1997 Uppsala model by exploring developments in a number of literatures parallel to, yet part of, international business research. First, Johanson and Vahlne reposition the Uppsala model to acknowledge research from marketing on business networks. They view business networks as a market structure in which ‘the internationalizing firm is embedded’. This perspective highlights the key role of interaction between actors in international markets; interaction that leads to socially constructed international business relationships based on reciprocal commitment, learning, and trust.  This is a key point of differentiation from more traditional economic theory that defines a firm without reference to other firms. Also notable is Johanson and Vahlne’s effort to articulate the concepts of network ‘insidership’ and ‘outsidership’, and the resultant implications for internationalizing firms.


“Second, Johanson and Vahlne incorporate arguments central to entrepreneurship research. They argue that opportunity development is a process similar to those of internationalization and relationship development. In the 2009 model, opportunities are considered to be the core element of knowledge that drives internationalization, with internationalization being pursued within a network. They also note the potential overlaps between effectuation logic and internationalization, including the centrality of individual actors and their characteristics (the latter being implied in the 2009 model).


“For all these reasons, the selection committee recommends the Johanson and Vahlne (2009) paper, which has become a widely cited and highly impactful article, for the 2019 JIBS Decade Award.”


A session will be held at the upcoming 2019 AIB Annual Meeting in Copenhagen, in which the authors and invited discussants, namely Maria Tereza Fleury (FGV EAESP) and JT Li (HKUST), and Nicole Coviello (Wilfrid Laurier University) and co-authors, will comment on the paper. A reception honoring the Decade Award winning paper and its authors will also be held as part of the closing reception at the conference. We hope that you will join us in Copenhagen to attend these events; the date and times will be available at when the conference program is finalized.


A retrospective by the authors, together with the discussants’ commentaries, will be published in the first issue of the 2020 volume of the Journal of International Business Studies.


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