Special Issue Call for Papers

Managing Sustainable Development in International Business:

Challenges and Insights

Special Issue Co-Editors

·         Beth Rose, Guest Editor (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)



AIB Insights is a peer-reviewed journal publishing "Actionable International Business Insights". Short, topical, thought-provoking articles should be akin to written “TED Talks” with an applied/actionable focus that focuses on usable insights and de-emphasizes references, jargon, and methods. These insights must be relevant to the broad international business community, including researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and educators. With this Special Issue call, we invite submissions that offer novel and applied insights for responding to sustainable development challenges in the context of the broad international business (IB) field.


IB research and practice are increasingly concerned with global sustainability issues associated with, or resulting from, firms’ activities and practices across borders (Dilyard, Zhao, & You, 2021; Ghauri, Strange, & Cooke, 2021; Van Zanten & Van Tulder, 2018). Despite extensive research about sustainability and sustainable development in many non-IB fields (Hahn, Kolk & Winn, 2010) and the wide recognition of multinational enterprises (MNEs) as necessary actors in the United Nations’ target of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (van Tulder & Keen, 2018; Zhan & Santos-Paulino, 2021), there remains limited clear and systematic understanding of firms’ – particularly MNEs' – roles in contributing to, or hindering, local and global efforts to address pressing sustainability issues or achieving the SDGs (Witte & Dilyard, 2017). 


The highly complex, multifaceted, cross-disciplinary, and interconnected nature of sustainable development issues strongly parallels the nature of IB phenomena, making IB well-suited to address these issues. However, for this line of IB research to move forward in a more systematic manner, to offer best practices and create measurable societal impact, it is necessary to ask thought-provoking questions concerning the role that is played (or that could be played) by MNEs in relation to the wide range of pressing global sustainability issues. This includes ways to better integrate sustainability problems into IB research and practice (Eden & Nielsen, 2020) and the development of novel and instrumental insights that have wider managerial and policy implications. 


Considering the imperative of global sustainability challenges and the growing importance of this area of research within the IB domain, this Special Issue of AIB Insights seeks novel and actionable insights that both scrutinize MNEs and their role in sustainability and inform the practice of sustainable management and policy development. Below is a list of illustrative – but not exhaustive – topics:

·         How sustainability-oriented should/can MNEs be? What role should (or must) MNEs play in achieving the SDGs (e.g., lead or follow, reactive or proactive)? How should (or must) MNEs’ actions be measured against the SDGs, and by whom? 

·         What are the most pressing challenges that MNEs face in the creation and maintenance of sustainable value chains? How do/can MNE management best respond to these challenges?

·         How can/should MNEs exploit advanced technologies (e.g., digitalization, industry 4.0) to make their local and global operations more sustainability-oriented?

·         How do/can MNEs prioritize sustainability-related actions and decisions in response to different institutional environments (e.g., regulatory regimes)?

·         What sustainability lessons can MNEs from advanced economies learn from their counterparts in emerging economies, and vice versa? How can these lessons and related best practices be implemented in the MNEs' own operations?

·         What are the challenges that hinder the encapsulation of the intricacies of sustainability in terms of behavioral, operational, and/or investment policies of the MNE? How can these be addressed? 


Submission Process and Timeline

AIB Insights is an Academy of International Business journal that publishes short (around 2500 words), interesting, topical, current, and thought-provoking articles. Colleagues interested in submitting to this Special Issue should consult the AIB Insights Editorial Policy and use the Online Manuscript Submission System. Please mention “Special Issue: Sustainable Development Challenges in International Business” in your cover letter when submitting your manuscript.



The deadline for submission of full manuscripts is August 30, 2021. The expected publication of the Special Issue is during the first half of 2022.



Eden, L. & Nielsen, B.B. (2020) Research methods in international business: The challenge of complexity. Journal of International Business Studies, 51: 1609–1620 


Ghauri, P., Strange, R., & Cooke, F. L. (2021) Research on international business: The new realities. International Business Review, 30(2): 101794.


Hahn, T., Kolk, A., & Winn, M. (2010) A new future for business? Rethinking management theory and business strategy. Business & Society, 49(3): 385-401.


Van Tulder, R., & Keen, N. (2018) Capturing collaborative challenges: Designing complexity-sensitive theories of change for cross-sector partnerships. Journal of Business Ethics, 150(2): 315-332.


Van Zanten, J. A., & Van Tulder, R. (2018) Multinational enterprises and the Sustainable Development Goals: An institutional approach to corporate engagement. Journal of International Business Policy, 1(3): 208-233.


Witte, C., & Dilyard, J. (2017) The contribution of multinational enterprises to the Sustainable Development Goals. Transnational Corporations, 24(3): 1-8.


Zhan, J. X., & Santos-Paulino, A. U. (2021) Investing in the Sustainable Development Goals: Mobilization, channelling, and impact. Journal of International Business Policy, 4(1): 166-183.


Dilyard, J., Zhao, S., & You, J. J. (2021) Digital innovation and industry 4.0 for global value chain resilience: Lessons learned and ways forward. Thunderbird International Business Review, online first


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