Journal of International Management

Special Issue: Novel methodological approaches to study socio-political risks

Guest Co-Editors:

Tatiana Vashchilko (University of Calgary, Canada)
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George O. White III (University of Michigan – Flint, USA)
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Andreea Mihalache-OKeef (Roanoke College, USA)
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Crystal Jiang (Bryant University, USA)
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Irem Demirkan (Loyola University Maryland, USA)
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Asda Chintakananda (National Institute of Development Administration, Thailand)
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Supervising Editor:

Tazeeb Rajwani (University of Surrey, UK)

Deadline for submission: October 1, 2021

(A special workshop for the SI will be planned in the future)

Background and rationale for the special issue

The goal of this special issue is to showcase a wide range of discipline-specific and interdisciplinary methodologies for studying socio-political risks (SPRs). This issue will bring together a selection of papers that can provide a more granular understanding of methodological issues in complex and fast-changing contexts. 

The socio-political environment is a major source of objective and subjective uncertainties for international business and multinational enterprise (MNE) operations (John and Lawton, 2008; Kobrin, 1979; Lawton, Doh, and Rajwani, 2014) resulting in additional transaction costs that tend to be inherently higher in more complex systems of exchange and greater competition for scarce resources (e.g., North, 1991). With important megatrends changing the SPR landscape such as increased complexity of the international political environment (Teng et al. 2017), growing efficiencies of supply chains, and the tech revolution transforming these global phenomenon (Rice and Zegart, 2018), scholars have expanded their inquiry into different types of SPRs such as corruption (Karhunen and Ledyaeva, 2012; Sartor and Beamish, 2017), legal uncertainty (White et al., 2015), socio-political violence (Oh and Oetzel, 2017), military conflict (Arikan et al., 2019; Li and Vashchilko, 2010), natural disasters (Oetzel and Oh, 2014), and property rights violations (Jiang et al., 2011), while also exploring ways to mitigate exposure to SPRs (John and Lawton, 2017) and turn what would otherwise be disadvantages into advantages (Darendeli and Hill, 2016; Harvey and Novicevic, 2002) via, for example, developing political capabilities (Schnyder and Sallai, 2020; White et al., 2018).

To identify and further study the complexities of SPRs require scholars to more profoundly examine the inherent uncertainty associated with the business environment (i.e., socio-politico-economic systems or structures), which commands additional expertise in the corresponding disciplines (e.g., law, political science, sociology). Furthermore, to improve our understanding of the integrated influences of SPR on managerial phenomena, international managerial research should capitalize on methodological advances across a wider range of disciplines (e.g., data science, political science) to optimize cross-disciplinary access and usability of scientific SPR information. SPR scholars have utilized diverse methodological approaches in identifying SPRs and analyzing their impact on business outcomes.

Yet, absent cohesive conceptualization, methodological issues associated with operationalization and measurement of SPRs (and their types) abound resulting in the inconclusiveness of empirical results concerning the impact of SPRs on performance outcomes (Beugelsdijk et al., 2018; Cavusgil et al., 2020; Magnusson and Tarverdi, 2020). With the understanding that SPR measures often lack accuracy (Sottilotta 2015), scholars have started to re-evaluate widely used measures of SPRs, including indicators of institutional quality such as the Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) (Magnusson and Tarverdi, 2020). Dissatisfaction with the accuracy of aggregate SPR indicators, especially in contexts exhibiting high socio-political uncertainty, has intensified the use of surveys, survey experiments, and interviews to develop a better understanding of SPRs, their sources, and implications for international management (Weber et al., 2020). These mixed methods have proved to be especially valuable for capturing heterogeneous exposure of MNEs to SPRs across geography, industry, and other firm attributes as well as variations in corporate political activities (Dang et al., 2020; Schnyder and Sallai, 2020; White et al., 2018). However, much more can be done to further illuminate and advance these methodological approaches.

This SI will therefore offer a platform and forum for scholars to facilitate this process and elucidate novel methodological approaches to study SPRs. With specific attention to theory-driven methodological approaches of SPR analysis, the main focus of the SI is to foster an interdisciplinary conversation over novel methodologies in examining SPRs and MNE strategic responses to the complexities of international and national operating environments. The SI will provide an opportunity for: (1) the systematic examination of pros and cons of a range of novel qualitative and quantitative methodologies for advancement of SPR knowledge; and (2) the identification of state-of-the-art analytical tools to study different types of SPR in diverse contexts. This SI will therefore facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue and has the potential to generate new theoretical explanations of important SPR-related phenomena combined with appropriate choices of analytical tools and novel applications of existing methods from other disciplines. Thus, in the long term, the SI should (1) lead to the improvement in theoretical and empirical research across multiple methodological dimensions such as efficiency, accuracy, and the overall quality of SPR research; as well as (2) drive the improvement in the ability of scholars to assess the danger of existing risks and to identify emergent ones.

We envision the SI to engage scholars from different disciplines in the discussion of novel methodological approaches that can connect and integrate the ever-increasing volumes of discipline specific SPR knowledge important for international management. These approaches will improve the efficiency, accuracy, and overall quality of SPR research but also serve practitioners (through future scholarship) interested in building socio-political risk assessment and resilience by providing a more comprehensive basis for managerial decision-making, especially in the situations characterized by high levels of uncertainty. The relatively insular insights of discipline-rooted research ought to confront and complement each other; building bridges across disciplines that will improve our comprehension of the many manifestations of SPRs, its sources, and implications for international management practices. Thus, international management scholars will have a better understanding of methodologies and analytical tools that can be utilized in SPR research.  

Potential Topics

This special issue welcomes submissions with an interdisciplinary perspective. Papers could incorporate one or multiple aspects of novel methodological approaches for identifying and explaining SPRs, including but not limited to:

Submission Process

The deadline of paper submission to this special issue is 1 October 2021. A special workshop for the SI will be planned in the future. All papers will be subject to double‐blind review process. Papers for this issue should be prepared as per the Journal's guidelines available at:

Authors should submit an electronic copy of their manuscript via the journal's online submission system via


Arikan, I., Arikan, A., Shenkar, O. 2019. Nation‐dyadic history and cross‐border corporate deals: Role of conflict, trade, generational distance, and professional education. Strateg. Manag. J. 41, 422-466

Beugelsdijk, S., Ambos, B., Nell, P. C. 2018. Conceptualizing and measuring distance in international business research: Recurring questions and best practice guidelines. J. Int. Bus. Stud. 49, 1113–1137.

Dang, Q.T., Jasovska, P., Rammal, H.G. 2020. International business-government relations: The risk management strategies of MNEs in emerging economies. J. World B. 55, 101042.

Darendeli, I.S., Hill, T.L. 2016. Uncovering the complex relationships between political risk and MNE firm legitimacy: Insights from Libya. J. Int. Bus. Stud. 47, 68-92.

Harvey, M., Novicevic, M. 2002. The role of political competence in global assignments of expatriate managers. J. Int. Manag. 8, 389-406,

Jiang, C.X., Yang, Q., Li, S., Wang, Y. 2011. The moderating effect of foreign direct investment intensity on local firms' intangible resources investment and performance implications: A case from China. J. Int. Manag. 17, 291-302.

John, A., Lawton, T. 2017. International political risk management: Perspectives, approaches and emerging agendas. Int. J. Manag. Rev. 20, 847-879

Karhunen, K., Ledyaeva, S. 2012. Corruption distance, anti-corruption laws and international ownership strategies in Russia. J. Int. Manag. 18, 196-208.

Lawton, T., Doh, J., Rajwani, T. 2014. Aligning for Advantage: competitive strategies for the political and social arenas. Oxford University Press: United Kingdom.

Li, Q., Vashchilko, T. 2010. Dyadic military conflict, security alliances, and bilateral FDI flows. J. Int. Bus. Stud. 41, 765-782.

Magnusson, L.M., Tarverdi, Y. 2020. Measuring governance: Why do errors matter? World Dev. 136, 105061.

North, D.C. 1991. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge University Press.

Oetzel, J., Oh, C. H. 2014. Learning to carry the cat by the tail: Firm experience, disasters, and multinational subsidiary entry and expansion. Organ. Sci. 25, 732-756.

Oh, C. H., Oetzel, J. 2017. Once bitten twice shy? Experience managing violent conflict risk and MNC subsidiary-level investment and expansion. Strateg. Manag. J. 38, 714-731.   

Ratten, V. 2020. Coronavirus and international business: An entrepreneurial ecosystem perspective.  Thunderbird Int. Bus. Rev. 62, 629-634.

Rice, C., Zegart, A. 2018. Managing 21st-century political risk. Harvard Bus. Rev. May-June.

Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent. 2007. Discussion of Axel Leijonhufvud's "The Individual, the Market and the Division of Labor in Society". Capitalism and Society. 2, Article 4: DOI: 10.2202/1932-0213.1029.

Sartor, M.A., and Beamish, P.W. 2018. Host market government corruption and the equity-based foreign entry strategies of multinational enterprises. J. Int. Bus. Stud. 49: 346-370.  

Schnyder G, Sallai D. 2020. Between a rock and a hard place: Internal- and external institutional fit of MNE subsidiary political strategy in contexts of institutional upheaval. J Int Manag.       26(2):100736.

Sottilotta, C. 2015. Political risk assessment and the Arab spring: What can we learn? Thunderbird Int. Bus. Rev. 57, 379-390.

Teng, L., Huang, D. Pan, Y. 2017. The performance of MNE subsidiaries in China: Does it matter to be close to the political or business hub?  J. Int. Manag. 23, 292-305.

Weber, C.E., Chahabadi, D., Maurer, I. 2020. Antecedents and performance effect of managerial misperception of institutional differences. J. World Bus. 55, 101018.

White, G.O., Boddewyn, J. J., Galang. R.M.N. 2015. Legal system contingencies as determinants of political tie intensity by wholly owned foreign subsidiaries: Insights from the Philippines. J. World Bus. 50, 342-356.

White, G., Fainshmidt, S., Rajwani, T. 2018. Antecedents and outcomes of political tie intensity: institutional and strategic fit perspectives J. Int. Manag. 24, 1-15.

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: Journal of International Management, Novel methodological approaches to study socio-political risks SI JIM
Guest Editor: Multinational Business Review, Open for Business in a Closed World: Managing MNE Nonmarket Strategy in Times of Populism and Geopolitical Uncertainty

Latest Publication: Does context really matter? The influence of deficient legal services on the intensity of political ties in the regulatory and legal arenas, Multinational Business Review
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