Hi all,

The submission deadline for JIBP’s special issue on the Belt and Road Initiative is a bit more than a month away (September 1, 2020). We will consider both papers which passed the proposal phase and new papers. Please contact us if you have any questions pertaining the special issue.

Special Issue on the Belt and Road Initiative

Guest editors:

Jiatao Li, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Gongming Qian, Southern University of Science and Technology

Lee Li, York University

Xiaolan Fu, Oxford University

Ari Van Assche, HEC Montréal

Protectionism and de-globalisation have nowadays become popular themes for discussions about international business policy (Evenett, 2019). Many regions around the world are riding a wave of nationalism. From America to Europe, politicians of the sort of Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro base their appeal on the idea that they are standing up for their own countries. They want to make their countries great again by building walls and stepping away from multilateral cooperation.

One would make a mistake, however, to portray this trend as the new global norm. In the world’s largest economy, for example, Chinese president Xi Jinping has issued a clarion call for economic globalization that is firmly based on international cooperation. This has been particularly evident in the country’s hallmark “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), which is the focus of this special issue. Launched in 2013, the goal of BRI is to create the world’s largest platform for economic cooperation along routes reminiscent of the ancient Silk Road (Chaisse & Matsushita, 2018; Li, Liu & Qian, 2019). To date, more than 130 countries have signed deals worth US$575 billion to build railways, roads, ports and other projects in the more than 65 economies along its route (World Bank, 2018). The economic area that BRI aims to stimulate covers about 65% of the world’s population and 40% of the global GDP (Li, 2019).

This is not to say that Xi Jinping’s signature effort is without critics. Some opponents have compared BRI to the Marshall Plan, a flagship US aid program that helped to reconstruct Western Europe from 1948 to 1952 (Bin, 2018). They fear the BRI will serve as a geopolitical instrument for China to build an alliance of beneficiary countries to confront the West and other adversaries (Dunford & Liu, 2019). In the recent Belt and Road Forum, for example, some leaders of the United States and Europe decided not to participate (Blanchard & Emmott, 2019). India has also directly opposed its involvement in the initiative, accusing China of irresponsibly ignoring other nations’ sovereignty and adopting the initiative as a tool to obtain geopolitical superpower (Ayres, 2017).

Regardless of the geopolitical reasons behind BRI, the sheer magnitude of the initiative, as well as its unique characteristics, suggest that the initiative is changing the global business landscape, which is affecting many parameters of policy, institutions, strategy and entrepreneurship. For international business scholars, this opens the questions what the main features are of BRI, and how firms and other players have redesigned their IB strategies to deal with BRI-induced opportunities and challenges.

This Special Issue seeks to provide new insights on the nature of BRI and is interaction with IB. There are several characteristics of BRI that make it stand out from other development initiatives.

  *   First, the players. Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are the main participants in the initiative and are playing a leading role in its implementation. As of October 2018, Chinese SOEs contracted about half of BRI projects by number and more than 70% by project value (Zhang & Yin, 2019). This is different from other large-scale initiatives that generally have been driven by private MNEs headquartered in developed countries.
  *   Second, the industries and regions. A key focus of the BRI is to help build infrastructure and connectedness in Central Asian countries that have hitherto been largely neglected by MNEs. Much of the IB activities are also South-South of nature, which may be driven by different factors than North-South foreign direct investment.
  *   Third, the type of cooperation. Besides new business-government interactions, the BRI involves a mode of cooperation characterized by cooperative agreements signed between governments of various countries. That is different from traditional modes that involve the cooperation between firms.

The purpose of this SI is therefore to explore and explain the ways in which the nature of BRI along multiple dimensions affects competition and cooperation between multinational enterprises in the economic area. We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions, including papers that address the FDI and international strategy issues relating to the new global business landscape.

The full call for papers is attached.

Ari Van Assche, Ph.D.
Professor of Economic Diplomacy
Department of International Business
3000, chemin de la Côte‑Sainte‑Catherine, Montréal (Québec) H3T 2A7
Téléphone : 514 340-6043  Télécopieur : 514 340-6987

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