Call for Papers Special Issue: Multinational Business Review

Open for Business in a Closed World: Managing MNE Nonmarket Strategy in Times of

Populism and Geopolitical Uncertainty


Guest Editors: George O. White III, Tazeeb S. Rajwani and Thomas C. Lawton


Paper Submission deadline: 1 March 2020




Multinational enterprises (MNEs) operating in this era of nationalist rhetoric and mercantilist behavior encounter growing nonmarket threats and uncertainty. Increased anti-globalization sentiment and legislation require MNEs to adjust and adapt their corporate strategies (Doh, Lawton, and Rajwani, 2012). There is extensive literature on political risk and regulatory uncertainty (Brewer, 1993; García-Canal and Guillén, 2008; Henisz and Delios, 2001; Henisz and Zelner, 2003; John and Lawton, 2017; Kobrin, 1979; White, Boddewyn, and Galang, 2015). In contrast, with a few notable exceptions (White, Hemphill, Joplin, and Marsh, 2014), there is scant research on multinational nonmarket strategy that explores both socio-political risks and uncertainty derived from government policies, particularly arising from increased nationalism and protectionism.  


Compared to the post-Cold War 1990s, when firms flourished due to the neo-liberal environment that embraced globalization, the decade since the 2008 global economic crisis has been characterized by increased populism and skepticism towards globalization. Populist movements and leaders have largely focused on inequality and those left behind by globalization, but also on new technologies, as low skilled workers in advanced economies have increasingly become redundant due to automation, outsourcing, and offshoring (Oestreich, 2002). These sentiments and resultant nationalism were evident, for instance, in the 2016 U.S. presidential election results, as well as election results in the Philippines, Hungry, Mexico and Turkey, the 2017 Brexit referendum vote, and the 2018 Italian election leading to the first populist government in a large EU country. There is increased evidence to suggest a new world order is emerging due to greater focus by governments on national interests rather than multinational solutions (Globerman, 2017). The issues underlying this surge in populism are giving rise to viable political associations, parties and interests, which have largely elicited dismissive and passive aggressive responses from the established political classes, both at national and international levels (Avioutskii and Tensaout, 2016). This can be evidenced in the defensive response of the EU institutional leadership to populist victories in member countries including Greece, Hungary, and Italy. As a result, this standoff has increased uncertainty for MNEs pondering investment, expansion opportunities, and locational choices.  


Many economies around the world are now framed by weaker political and regulatory institutions, resulting in nonmarket threats such as border and migration disputes, judicial arbitrariness, increased regulatory uncertainty, and rising social inequality. Therefore, many MNE strategic decisions are seriously challenged, and constrained, due to these institutional uncertainties and shortcomings. Further, whereas some MNEs benefit from these developments, most are dealing with increased costs, time, and insecurity burdens in their markets and supply chains. Numerous countries also face rising threats of terrorism, an increase in arbitrary legal rulings, government instability, lop-sided and underdeveloped consumer markets, and potentially destabilizing levels of youth unemployment. Much of the blame for these problems is apportioned to free trade, opportunistic foreign direct investment practices, liberal immigration policies and open borders, thus giving rise to anti-globalization movements. Therefore, these countries have developed far reaching new laws on migration, climate change, and corporate tax. MNE corporate strategies are undoubtedly challenged by this populist and anti-globalization sentiment. In response to these institutional shifts, MNEs are going through major strategic changes that involve new capability development or rethinking capabilities in nonmarket arenas. 


Given the implications for international business and management research during this new wave of nationalism (Meyer, 2017), and the attendant socio-political risk and regulatory uncertainty, there is a salient need for more research focused on MNE nonmarket strategies. Therefore, the aims of this special issue are to focus on (1) the conceptualization of responses that MNEs can develop to manage and mitigate these anti-global challenges; and (2) theorization concerning the types and forms of nonmarket strategies that can be adopted and implemented in order to enhance competitive advantage in contexts where nationalism and geopolitical risk is high. Academic research on these issues can generate new theoretical insights into the relationship between nonmarket threats and corporate level strategic decision-making, in relation to government policies, socio-political risk, institutional uncertainty, and an anti-global business environment. 


Key Issues


Papers should preferably investigate how anti-globalization and mercantilist nonmarket threats are shaping MNE structures and operations, governance, strategic principles and practices, and outcomes. Papers could deal with the following issues (although innovative work in related and relevant areas will also be welcome):


       MNE nonmarket capability development and the local political economy, with a focus on anti-globalization policies

       Corporate strategy and nonmarket risk management in Europe, North America, the Middle East, or Asian regions

       How MNEs are affecting institutional changes in different countries and regions characterized by populist movements

       How MNEs engage external stakeholders, such as religious and ideological groups, political institutions, legal and regulatory institutions, powerful political actors and civil

society organizations, to mitigate anti-globalization movements

       Resilience and recovery from anti-globalization following the closure of MNE subsidiaries

       MNE nonmarket strategy and business model innovation in nationalistic environments

       The possibilities and limits of corporate social responsibility, corporate power, authority and legitimacy in an era of anti-globalization

       Local governments, global talent strategies, and corporate strategies: how antiglobalization sentiment and forces impact winners and losers in international competition

       Nonmarket strategy, anti-globalization, market entry mode and corporate structures 

       How does the convergence of factors such as corruption and de-institutionalization within countries undergoing ultra-populist movements influence MNE strategies?   

       Re-shoring, tax configuration, M&A, and corporate divestments as MNE responses to anti-globalization sentiment and nationalist policies  

       Are political ties and relationships still important? Do lobbying practices need to adapt to a changing world? What role do they play during this period of anti-globalization?


The special issue is open and competitive with submitted papers undergoing the normal rigorous double-blind review process to ensure relevance and quality. The key criteria for acceptance of manuscripts are (1) relevance to the theme of the special issue; (2) scholarly rigor of analysis; and (3) novel and innovative arguments and findings. Papers focused on the development of theory and/or testing the boundaries of theory are particularly welcome. Submitted papers must be original work not under consideration by any other journal or outlet. Reviewers for papers submitted to the Special Issue will be drawn from the Special Issue Editorial Review Board and the MBR Editorial Review Board. No submission will be reviewed prior to the closing date. 


Submission Process


Between January 1 and March 1, 2020, authors should submit their manuscripts online. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submitting papers are available on MBR’s web page.  All submissions should be submitted electronically to  SI as the article type.


Please note that MBR will be hosting a pre-conference PDW for this special issue at the Academy of International Business annual conference in Miami.


For more information:


Prospective authors are urged to contact the guest editors with their initial proposals or ideas well in advance of the deadline for final paper submission.


Contact details:


       Dr. George O. White III, University of Michigan-Flint & Asian Institute of Management ([log in to unmask]

       Dr. Tazeeb S. Rajwani, University of Surrey ([log in to unmask]

       Dr. Thomas C. Lawton, University College Cork & University of Surrey ([log in to unmask])


Sample of relevant references: 


Avioutskii, V. and Tensaout, M. (2016), “Does politics matter? Partisan FDI in Central and Eastern Europe”, Multinational Business Review, Vol. 24, pp. 375-398.

Brewer, T. L. (1993), “Government policies, market imperfections, and foreign direct investment”, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 24, pp. 101-120.          

Doh, J. P., Lawton, T. C. and Rajwani, T. (2012), “Advancing nonmarket strategy reseach: Institutional perspectives in a changing world”, Academy of Management Perspectives, Vol. 26, pp. 22-39. 

Garcia-Canal, E. and Guillen, M. F. (2008), “Risk and the strategy of foreign location choice in regulated industries”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 29, pp. 1097-1115. 

Globerman, S. (2017), “A new era for foreign direct investment?”, Multinational Business Review, Vol. 25, pp. 5-10. 

Henisz, W. J. and Delios, A. (2001), “Uncertainty, imitation, and plant location: Japanese multinational corporations, 1990-1996”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 46, pp. 443-475.

Henisz, W. J. and Zelner, B. A. (2005), “Legitimacy, interest group pressures, and change in emergent institutions: The case of foreign investors and host country governments”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 30, pp. 361-382.

John, A. and Lawton, T. C. (2017), “International political risk management: Perspectives, approaches and emerging agendas”, International Journal of Management Reviews,

Kobrin, S. J. (1979), “Political risk: A review and reconsideration”, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 10, pp. 67-80. 

Meyer, K. E. (2017), “International business in an era of anti-globalization”, Multinational Business Review, Vol. 25, pp. 78-90. 

Oestreich, J. E. (2002), “What can businesses do to appease anti-globalization protestors?”, Business & Society Review, Vol. 107, pp. 207-220. 

Viatcheslav, A. and Tensaout, M. (2016), “Does politics matter? Partisan FDI in Central and Eastern Europe”, Multinational Business Review, Vol. 24, pp. 375-398. 

White, G. O., Boddewyn, J. J. and Galang, R. M. N. (2015), “Legal system contingencies as determinants of political tie intensity by wholly owned foreign subsidiaries: Insights from     the Philippines”, Journal of World Business, Vol. 50, pp. 342-356.

White, G. O., Hemphill, T. A., Joplin, J. R. W. and Marsh, L. A. (2014), “Wholly owned foreign subsidiary relations-based strategies in volatile environments”, International Business Review, Vol. 23, pp. 303-312. 

George O. White III, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Strategic Management
School of Management, University of Michigan-Flint
Office Phone: 810-762-3114/Cell Phone: 915-217-4571
Fax: 810-762-3282/Skype: gowhiteiii

Core Faculty, International & Global Studies Program, University of Michigan-Flint IGS
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) CSEAS
Non-Resident Research Fellow, Asian Institute of Management (Philippines) AIM
Visiting Professor, NIDA Business School (Thailand) NIDA

Guest Editor: Multinational Business Review, Open for Business in a Closed World: Managing MNE Nonmarket Strategy in Times of Populism and Geopolitical Uncertainty MBR
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