Journal of World Business

A Special Issue on

“Cycles and Waves of Internationalisation: Determinants and Consequences of De-Internationalization and Re-Internationalization”

Submissions open July 1, 2021; submissions due July 31, 2021


Guest Editors:

Mario Kafouros, University of Manchester, UK

Tamer Cavusgil, Georgia State University, USA

Timothy Devinney, University of Manchester, UK

Panagiotis Ganotakis, University of Liverpool, UK

James H Love, University of Leeds, UK


Supervising Editor:

Stav Fainshmidt, Florida International University, US



Special Issue Overview

International business scholars have examined various aspects of the process through which large MNEs but also small entrepreneurial firms internationalize. Although the vast majority of studies concentrate on how and why firms expand their foreign operations or under what conditions they perform well in home and foreign markets (Richard et al., 2009; Kafouros and Aliyev, 2016; Liesch et al., 2007; Lu at al., 2018), the literature has largely ignored the fact that firms’ internationalization is rarely a simple forward-moving process. Rather, it often involves various cycles and waves of internationalization that may include a reduction in the intensity or scope of international activities or even a complete withdrawal from foreign markets. These phases of de-internationalization can be followed by a subsequent increase in international activities or by re-entering international markets (Chen et al., 2019; Surdu et al., 2018). The limited focus on the cycles and waves of firms’ internationalization is also reflected in prior theories, including the sequential approach to internationalization or the international new venture theory (Johanson and Vahlne, 2009; Oviatt and McDougall, 1994), that implicitly assume that internationalization is a non-reversible process (Bernini et al., 2016). Nevertheless, a better understanding of international business rests not only on studying internationalization, but also de-internationalization and re-internationalization (Berry, 2013; Mohr et al., 2018; Soule et al., 2014).



The aim of this special issue is to advance IB theory and empirical knowledge about the determinants and consequences of cycles and waves of firm internationalization including different forms of de-internationalization and re-internationalization. Contributions about such determinants and consequences are encouraged to include different levels of analysis, including the firm, market, industry and state actors. 



Regardless of the mode of entry adopted (e.g., exporting, Joint Ventures, WOS), firms can increase or decrease their presence in foreign markets, exit and even re-enter markets at a later point in time (D’ Angelo et al., 2020; Gaur et al., 2019; Yang et al., 2017; Welch and Welch, 2009). Therefore, firms do not merely adopt a mere linear approach to internationalization. Instead, they often choose to fluctuate their foreign market involvement (Vissak and Francioni, 2013). Although such waves and cycles and various forms of de and re-internationalization occur very frequently, the reasons behind the reduction (and subsequent increase) in international operations but also the consequences of different forms of de- and re-internationalization have not been examined to the extent that they ought to (Bernini et al., 2016).


For instance, although MNEs make long-term commitments in foreign markets through FDI (e.g., by acquiring or setting up new subsidiaries; Wang et al., 2012), divestment of such foreign assets occurs at half the rate of investments (Chung et al., 2013). Yet, the majority of recent work has been carried out in the area of FDI and only limited work has looked at the determinants or consequences of different types of divestments (Berry, 2013; Dachs et al., 2019; Konara and Ganotakis, 2020; Lee et al., 2019; Mohr et al., 2020; Rodrigues and Dieleman, 2018). For example, when it comes to the retention of foreign subsidiaries, recent studies have highlighted the important role played by the innovative capabilities that subsidiaries possess (Konara and Ganotakis, 2020), the scope and uniqueness of a subsidiary’s mandate portfolio (Lee et al., 2019) and that of foreign market characteristics (Berry , 2013). Other studies have examined the backshoring of manufacturing activities and how this is influenced by the adoption of new production technologies (Cachs et al., 2019) or how governmental control can reduce the international operations of multinational state hybrids (Rodrigues and Dieleman, 2018). Finally, a few studies have examined how the negotiating process between seller and buyer under different industry conditions can influence the outcome of a divestment taking place (Fuad and Gaur, 2019).


Despite of those important contributions, we still have an incomplete understanding of the range of internal, external and institutional factors that affect different forms of divestment and, importantly, how the interaction between those factors influences de- and re-internationalization. The importance of studying not only the determinants but also the consequences of de- and re-internationalization is evident from recent international disintegration events, such as Brexit, that have led to a number of foreign MNEs exiting or considering exit from the UK, with possible adverse effects not only on employment but also on knowledge transfer and economic competitiveness (Andersson et al., 2016; Cumming and Zahra, 2016; Kafouros et al., 2018; Sampson, 2017).


As with FDI and divestment, firms that use non-equity methods of internationalization, such as exporting, do not always maintain a constant presence abroad. Rather they tend to either completely exit foreign markets without re-entering, or exit and later re-enter the same or different markets (Chen et al., 2019; Love and Ganotakis, 2013). The process of exit and re-entry can be repeated a number of times over a certain time period (Bernini et al., 2016; Love and Manez, 2019). The importance of uncovering the reasons behind exiting export markets and subsequent re-entry but also the effects of those activities on a number of firm level outcomes, is emphasized by the imminent and possible prolonged global financial crisis and reduced global demand (Bamiatzi et al., 2016; Konara and Ganotakis, 2020) resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Second, its importance is also highlighted from recent trade protectionism trends, resulting in an increase in the prices of intermediate and final products as well as changes to firms’ supply chain networks (Amiti et al., 2019).   


Exploring the reasons behind re-internationalization is as important as investigating the determinants of de-internationalization. By re-entering foreign markets, firms can salvage prior tangible and intangible sunk costs, capture emerging opportunities as well as new or cheaper resources and hence improve future performance (Chen et al., 2019). However, re-internationalization is a more complex process (Javalgi et al., 2011) than initial market entry because the decision will be influenced by the type of experience gained during the exit (but also the time-out) period (Bernini et al., 2016; Surdu et al., 2019). Such experience can be the result of critical events, or it can be the outcome of a willing strategic decision (Vissak and Francioni, 2013). In the former case, this might mean that firms will hesitate to re-enter markets despite the existence of new untapped opportunities (Javalgi et al., 2011). It is important therefore not only to examine what enables or constrains firms from re-entering foreign markets, but also to methodologically and conceptually distinguish between the reasons that led to exiting and take those into account when re-entry is examined.          


Finally, even if firms maintain their presence in foreign markets, they do not always increase their commitment in those markets as the stage process to internationalization would suggest. However, they can also decrease their presence, either by reducing the level of sales or by changing the mode of internationalization into a less resource intensive one (D’Angelo et al., 2020; Surdu et al., 2019). Nevertheless, we still have a rather incomplete understanding of the effects that such changes have on the short- and long-term performance of firms.  


Objectives of this Special Issue


Illustrative Topics

Exemplary research questions within the intended scope of this Special Issue include, but are not limited to, the following:




Amiti, M., Redding, S.J., & Weinstein, D.E. (2019). The Impact of the 2018 Tariffs on Prices and Welfare. Journal of Economic Perspectives33(4), 187-210.

Andersson, U., Dasí, Á., Mudambi, R., & Pedersen, T. (2016). Technology, innovation and knowledge: The importance of ideas and international connectivity. Journal of World Business51(1), 153-162.

Bamiatzi, V., Bozos, K., Cavusgil, S.T., & Hult, G.T.M. (2016). Revisiting the firm, industry, and country effects on profitability under recessionary and expansion periods: A multilevel analysis. Strategic Management Journal37(7), 1448-1471.

Bernini, M., Du, J., & Love, J.H. (2016). Explaining intermittent exporting: Exit and conditional re-entry in export markets. Journal of International Business Studies47(9), 1058-1076.

Berry, H. (2013). When do firms divest foreign operations?. Organization Science24(1), 246-261.

Cavusgil, S. T. and Knight, G. (2015). The Born-Global Firm: An Entrepreneurial and Capabilities Perspective on Early and Rapid Internationalization, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 46, No. 1 (2015), 3-16.

Chen, J., Sousa, C.M., & He, X. (2019). Export market re-entry: Time-out period and price/quality dynamisms. Journal of World Business54(2), 154-168.

Chung, C.C., Lee, S.H., Beamish, P.W., Southam, C., & Nam, D.D. (2013). Pitting real options theory against risk diversification theory: International diversification and joint ownership control in economic crisis. Journal of World Business48(1), 122-136.

Cumming, D.J., & Zahra, S.A. (2016). International business and entrepreneurship implications of Brexit. British Journal of Management27(4), 687-692.

D’Angelo, A., Ganotakis, P., & Love, J.H. (2020). Learning by exporting under fast, short-term changes: The moderating role of absorptive capacity and foreign collaborative agreements. International Business Review, 101687.

Dachs, B., Kinkel, S., & Jäger, A. (2019). Bringing it all back home? Backshoring of manufacturing activities and the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies. Journal of World Business54(6), 101017.

Freeman, S. and Cavusgil, S. T. (2007). Towards a Typology of Commitment States among Managers of Born Global Firms: A Study of Accelerated Internationalization, Journal of International Marketing, Vol. 15, No. 4 (2007) 1-40.

Fuad, M., & Gaur, A.S. (2019). Merger waves, entry-timing, and cross-border acquisition completion: A frictional lens perspective. Journal of World Business54(2), 107-118.

Gaur, A.S., Pattnaik, C., Singh, D., & Lee, J.Y. (2019). Internalization advantage and subsidiary performance: The role of business group affiliation and host country characteristics. Journal of International Business Studies50(8), 1253-1282.

Javalgi, R.R.G., Deligonul, S., Dixit, A., & Cavusgil, S.T. (2011). International market reentry: A review and research framework. International Business Review20(4), 377-393.

Johanson, J., & Vahlne, J.E. (2009). The Uppsala internationalization process model revisited: From liability of foreignness to liability of outsidership. Journal of International Business Studies40(9), 1411-1431.

Kafouros, M., & Aliyev, M., 2016. Institutional development and firm profitability in transition economies. Journal of World Business51(3), 369-378.

Kafouros, M., Wang, C., Mavroudi, E., Hong, J., & Katsikeas, C.S. (2018). Geographic dispersion and co-location in global R&D portfolios: Consequences for firm performance. Research Policy47(7), 1243-1255.

Kiss, A., Danis, W. and Cavusgil, S. T. (2012). International Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies: A Critical Review and Research Agenda,” Journal of Business Venturing, Vol. 27, Number 2 (2012), 266-290. 

Konara, P., & Ganotakis, P. (2020). Firm-specific resources and foreign divestments via selloffs: Value is in the eye of the beholder. Journal of Business Research110, 423-434.

Lee, H., Chung, C.C., & Beamish, P.W. (2019). Configurational characteristics of mandate portfolios and their impact on foreign subsidiary survival. Journal of World Business54(5), 100999.

Liesch, P.W., Weerawardena, J., Mort, G.S., Knight, G.A., & Kastelle, T. (2007). Editors’ Introduction to ‘The Early and Rapid Internationalization of the Firm’, Special Issue of the. Journal of World Business42(3), 232-35.

Love, J.H., & Ganotakis, P. (2013). Learning by exporting: Lessons from high-technology SMEs. International Business Review22(1), 1-17.

Love, J.H., & Máñez, J.A. (2019). Persistence in exporting: Cumulative and punctuated learning effects. International Business Review28(1), 74-89.

Lu, J. W., Song, Y., & Shan, M. (2018). Social trust in subnational regions and foreign subsidiary performance: Evidence from foreign investments in China. Journal of International Business Studies49(6), 761-773

Mohr, A., Batsakis, G., & Stone, Z. (2018). Explaining the effect of rapid internationalization on horizontal foreign divestment in the retail sector: An extended Penrosean perspective. Journal of International Business Studies49(7), 779-808.

Mohr, A., Konara, P., & Ganotakis, P. (2020). Explaining the performance of divested overseas subsidiaries. International Business Review29(1), 101602.

Oviatt, B.M., & McDougall, P.P. (1994). Toward a theory of international new ventures. Journal of International Business Studies25(1), 45-64.

Richard, P. J., Devinney, T. M., Yip, G. S., & Johnson, G. (2009). Measuring organizational performance: Towards methodological best practice. Journal of Management35(3), 718-804.

Rodrigues, S.B., & Dieleman, M. (2018). The internationalization paradox: Untangling dependence in multinational state hybrids. Journal of World Business53(1), 39-51.

Sampson, T. (2017). Brexit: the economics of international disintegration. Journal of Economic Perspectives31(4), 163-84.

Soule, S.A., Swaminathan, A., & Tihanyi, L. (2014). The diffusion of foreign divestment from Burma. Strategic Management Journal35(7), 1032-1052.

Surdu, I., Mellahi, K., Glaister, K.W., & Nardella, G. (2018). Why wait? Organizational learning, institutional quality and the speed of foreign market re-entry after initial entry and exit. Journal of World Business53(6), 911-929.

Surdu, I., Mellahi, K., & Glaister, K.W. 2019. Once bitten, not necessarily shy? Determinants of foreign market re-entry commitment strategies. Journal of International Business Studies50(3), 393-422.

Vissak, T., & Francioni, B. (2013). Serial nonlinear internationalization in practice: A case study. International Business Review22(6), 951-962.

Wang, C., Hong, J., Kafouros, M., & Wright, M. (2012). Exploring the role of government involvement in outward FDI from emerging economies. Journal of International Business Studies43(7), 655-676.

Welch, C.L., & Welch, L.S. (2009). Re-internationalisation: Exploration and conceptualisation. International Business Review18(6), 567-577.

Yang, J.Y., Lu, J., & Jiang, R. (2017). Too slow or too fast? Speed of FDI expansions, industry globalization, and firm performance. Long Range Planning50(1), 74-92.


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.