International Business Review (IBR)
Call for Papers for a Special Issue
MNE Nonmarket Strategy: Complexities and Varieties
Special Issue Editors
Submission Deadline: 1 March, 2022
Nonmarket strategy is a firm’s concerted set of actions to improve its competitive position and performance by managing the political and social context in which it operates (Rajwani and Liedong, 2015; Mellahi, Frynas, Sun, & Siegel, 2016). Its two main components - corporate political activity (CPA) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) – have received significant attention in the international business (IB) literature (Boddewyn and Doh, 2011; Brown, Yažar, and Rasheed, 2018; Mbalyohere and Lawton, 2018; De Villa et al., 2019). Host governments, while recognizing the benefits of foreign investment to their economies, often also purposely develop rules and regulations ostensibly to protect their citizens from exploitation by foreign multinational enterprises (MNEs). They also interfere with the operations and strategic objectives of MNEs through discriminatory policies on procurement, taxation, asset transfer and appropriation, among others. In response to these political risks, MNEs adapt nonmarket strategies in ways, and with methods, that are both responsible and irresponsible.
The political risks facing MNEs are even higher in this era of anti-globalization and economic nationalism. There has been an extensive body of literature dealing with nonmarket strategy and globalization (Curran et al., 2020; Kobrin, 2015; Prakash, 2002; Scherer and Palazzo, 2011). In contrast, a few notable exceptions notwithstanding (e.g. Liedong, Aghanya, and Rajwani, 2020), the literature on MNEs’ nonmarket strategy involving corruption, deception, espionage and fake news is still nascent, despite evidence that corporate political ties are more prevalent or valuable in high-corruption contexts (Faccio, 2006). This gap is surprising because anti-globalization sentiments are borne by individuals, organizations and organized social movements that are not only suspicious of and concerned about the dangers of unchecked corporate power, but are also repelled by the mutually convenient and often unethical business-government relationships that have facilitated the rise of MNEs, especially in countries where institutions are fragile or underdeveloped. Indeed, previous works have reported crony connections between firms and politicians (e.g. Dieleman and Sachs, 2008), as well as firms’ use of ethically-suspect political strategies (Lawton, McGuire, and Rajwani, 2013; Liedong et al., 2020). Concerned about this dark side of nonmarket strategy, some studies have discussed the governance challenges associated with CPA at both macro and micro levels (Liedong, 2020; Oberman, 200), and Dahan et al. (2013) even proposed frameworks for ethical CPA. However, there is still a dearth of research on if and how the practical orchestration of CPA adheres to these frameworks.
Beyond the dark side of CPA, there is also the bright side. Some scholars have argued that CPA provides valuable information to help imperfectly informed policymakers understand the consequences of policy alternatives for diverse stakeholders (Liedong et al., 2020; Lohmann, 1995). Others have proposed how MNEs can strategically cooperate with host governments to reduce corruption (Doh et al., 2003) or leverage regulatory pressures to cause positive change in host country institutions (Kwok and Tadesse, 2006). In Africa, where corruption is endemic, studies have specifically advanced the role that CPA could play to strengthen anti-corruption institutions and unlock the region’s prosperity (Idemudia et al., 2019; Liedong, 2017). Despite being uplifting, much of the little that has been written about CPA’s bright side is theoretical. This makes it crucial for future research to not only continue theorizing the promise of CPA by MNEs for strengthening host-institutional resilience, but to also empirically examine or investigate the practice and outcomes of CPA’s bright side.
Similarly, the literature on CSR provides us with interesting insights, specifically in relation to the micro aspects (e.g., codes of conduct and other private/voluntary forms of governance), that establish the norms through which organizational legitimacy can be secured. Yet, there is ongoing discussion about the use of CSR to achieve political ends. For instance, Fooks et al., (2013) discuss how tobacco companies use CSR to neutralize stakeholders’ opposition to their products. Such discussions related to ‘political CSR’, challenge, on the one hand, the ethicality of CSR in engaging with politics (Frynas and Stephens, 2015) but, on the other hand, also recognize MNEs as political actors and their positive role in institutional development through the provision of public goods, especially in countries with governance gaps (Scherer et al., 2016).
There are a diverse range of nonmarket strategies and tactics that firms use (Hillman, Keim, and Schuler, 2004; Mellahi et al., 2016; Rajwani and Liedong, 2015). From investing in political ties and social infrastructure, to providing political donations in different forms (Lawton, Doh, and Rajwani, 2014), there are many options for managing the surge of nationalistic governments and heightened political risk. Interestingly, nonmarket strategies are evolving and new forms are emerging (Liedong et al., 2020). These new strategies, in addition to traditional forms, have ethical implications. As MNEs are engaged in continuous interactions with actors and stakeholders in home and host country nonmarket environments, they are drawn into unethical practices by politicians and corrupt leaders, especially in a world that is changing in terms of policies and economic growth.
Given the practical and theoretical importance of ethical and responsible nonmarket strategies, there is a salient need for more research focused on both the positive and negative, bright and dark sides, of nonmarket strategy in the context of anti-globalization movements and sentiment (Doh, Lawton, and Rajwani, 2012). Thus, the aim of this special issue is two-fold. First, it focuses on the drivers and forms of nonmarket strategies that are unethical or illegal. Second, it explores positive nonmarket ideas and actions, and the implications for countries and societies. Academic research on these issues can generate new insights into the bright and dark sides of nonmarket strategies, especially in relation to governments, political risk and increasingly the anti-global and anti-big business environment within which MNEs operate.
Key Themes and Research Questions for the Special Issue
Papers should preferably involve investigations of how the nonmarket strategies of MNEs’ from advanced or emerging economies are designed and delivered in developed or developing countries. The themes below provide an indicative, but non-exhaustive, list of questions that can be tackled through conceptual, quantitative, qualitative, or mixed method approaches, drawing on a variety of theoretical lenses and paradigms. The key topics could deal with the following issues, although innovative work in related relevant areas would be welcome:
What are the possibilities and limitations of corporate responsibility, corporate power, authority, and legitimacy in an era of anti-globalization?
Deadline, Submission Process and Workshop
The special issue is open and competitive, and submitted papers will undergo 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 novel theoretical contribution; and (3) practical managerial orientation or implications. No submission will be reviewed prior to the closing date.
The submission deadline is March 1, 2022. Manuscripts should follow the IBR guidelines (https://www.elsevier.com/journals/international-business-review/0969-5931/guide-for-authors) and should be submitted between February 1 and February 28, 2022.
The guest editors of this Special Issue are planning to hold a manuscript development workshop for authors whose papers receive an invitation to revise and resubmit (R&R). During the workshop (to be held in late 2022; location to be announced), the authors of R&R manuscripts will present and discuss their papers with other attendees and the guest editors. We aim to publish this special issue in 2023.
For more information about this Call for Papers, please contact the Special Issue Editors: Tazeeb S. Rajwani ([log in to unmask]k), Tahiru A. Liedong ([log in to unmask]), Thomas C. Lawton ([log in to unmask]) and Vikrant Shirodkar ([log in to unmask]).
The ‘Call for Papers’ is also available on the IBR website – Click below for details:
Short Biographical Notes
Tazeeb Rajwani holds a Chair in International Business and Strategy at Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, UK. Prior to joining University of Surrey, he was Full Professor of International Business and Strategy at University of Essex and has also been Associate Professor (Reader) in Strategic Management at Cranfield School of Management, UK. Focusing on nonmarket strategy and corporate political activities, his research is concerned with how firms manage different socio-political activities in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa to influence different stakeholders and society at large. He has published in journals such as Organization Science, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of World Business, Journal of Management Studies, Academy of Management Perspectives, Global Strategy Journal, International Business Review, Management International Review, Strategic Organization, British Journal of Management, Journal of Business Ethics and Journal of International Management. He is the Associate editor of Journal of International Management and Multinational Business Review. He serves on the editorial board of Journal of World Business, British Journal Management, Long Range Planning and Journal of Asia Business Studies.
Tahiru Liedong is a Senior Lecturer in Strategy and International Business at University of Bath. His research focuses on micro, meso and macro-level analyses of nonmarket strategy. Specifically, he is interested in exploring how corporate political strategies and corporate social responsibility programs are developed and how they affect the performance and governance of local and multinational enterprises. He is also interested in investigating the global governance structures and their impact on firm level and institutional environments. He has published in leading journals such as Journal of World Business, Journal of International Management, Management International Review, Group & Organizations Management, Journal of Business Ethics, and British Journal of Management. He serves on the editorial board of Multinational Business Review and Journal of International Management.
Thomas Lawton is Professor of Strategy and International Business at Cork University Business School, University College Cork and Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, and Visiting Professor of Business Administration at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. He is also Director of the Global Competitiveness Institute at University College Cork and an Associate at the Mųller Institute, Churchill College, University of Cambridge. His research focuses on corporate political activity, international political risk management, and business model innovation. He has published in journals including Academy of Management Perspectives, Global Strategy Journal, International Business Review, Journal of International Management, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of World Business, and Strategic Organization. His co-authored books include Breakout Strategy (McGraw-Hill, 2007), Aligning for Advantage (Oxford University Press, 2014), and The Routledge Companion to Non-Market Strategy (Routledge, 2015). He is Associate Editor of Long Range Planning and Strategy Matters Series Editor for Routledge.
Vikrant Shirodkar is Senior Lecturer in International Business at the University of Sussex. Vikrant joined the University of Sussex Business School in 2012. Vikrant's primary research interest is on business - government relationships in an international business context - particularly on lobbying and other forms of corporate political activity. He is also interested in the institutional and strategic drivers of MNEs' financial performance and in the business context of emerging markets. Vikrant's research has appeared in notable journals such as the British Journal of Management, International Business Review, Management International Review, Journal of International Management and Journal of Business Ethics. His research has also won awards such as the Danny Van Den Bulcke Best Paper award at the 2016 European International Business Academy (EIBA) conference, and the Research in International Business and Finance best paper award at the 2018 Academy of International Business UK and Ireland chapter conference.
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Senior Lecturer in International Business
University of Sussex Business School
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