Industrial Marketing Management special issue cfp: “The Nature of Marketing in International B2B Service Firms: Review, Dynamics and Prospects

Deadline for submission: April 1, 2023*

(*Initial expressions of interest and one-page abstracts due by June 1, 2022 – to be mailed directly to Handling GE Matevþ (Matt) Raðkoviã)

Important dates

Guest editors


Overview and purpose of the special issue

The central aim of this special issue of Industrial Marketing Management is to develop new insights into why and how B2B service firms internationalize – which pertains to both outward and inward internationalization behavior. Despite the growth of the internationalization practices of B2B service firms amongst service firms (e.g., Battisti, Scott-Kennel & Deakins, 2021; Blagoeva, Jensen & Merhcant, 2020; Dayan & Ndubisi, 2020; Boehe, 2016), research on the phenomenon remains sparse (Taylor, Jack, Madsen & Alam, 2021). Furthermore, the changing global environment – with growing deglobalization tendencies (Witt, 2019), structural shifts across industries and increasing conditions of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (Petricevic and Teece, 2019) known under the VUCA acronym – also begs the question: How do changes in the global environment impact B2B service firms across different industries and markets in their internationalization efforts/practices?

This question is set against the backdrop of a more perennial issue of the impact of the changing nature of globalization on the structures, strategies and practices of B2B firms (Cavusgil, Yeniyurt & Townsend, 2004). However, contrary to understanding how recent changes in the global environment have impacted global marketing of B2B firms generally (Leonidou & Hultman, 2019), we know far less about the impact on the internationalization of B2B service firms. For example, how do increased volatility, a deeper level of uncertainty, growing complexity and emergent ambiguity interact with the so-called four IHIP characteristics (i.e., intangibility, heterogeneity, inseparability and perishability) of internationalizing B2B service firms (e.g., Gansser, Boßow-Thies & Krol, 2021)?

Specifically, there remains a dearth of research into the service characteristics of B2B firms and their impact on the internationalizing process, which should be seen as a two-way process of both outward and inward internationalization processes. Understanding the nature of B2B service characteristics and their impact on the internationalization process is critical for knowing how such firms expand overseas or are influenced by overseas players in their domestic environments. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has not only disrupted existing B2B relationships and business practices (e.g., Sheth, 2020; Chesbrough, 2020). It has also, for example, created new opportunities for operating in a virtual world, for example, by combining relational and virtual governance approaches (Jean, Kim, Shin & Hult, 2021) which are particularly important for international/internationalizing B2B service firms. Likewise, it has facilitated new forms of coopetitive behavior (Crick & Crick, 2020) which remain to be explored in a B2B service firm internationalization context

Accordingly, we invite contributions that explore the internationalization of B2B services as an object of marketing, or as an offering. Grönroos (2020) notes that the marketing of services cannot be understood conceptually without an understanding of what service as an object of marketing consists of conceptual development of service as an offering or an object to be marketed. An explicit understanding of what constitutes B2B services that are innovated, designed and branded for consumers in international markets, has not yet been explored.

Existing literature also acknowledges the important role played by the “dubious nature” of the institutional environment in international business (Aguilera & Gr¸gaard, 2019) and the role of home country and host country contexts in supporting the internationalization efforts of B2B firms (Chan & Pattnaik, 2021). While traditionally, the concept of “distance” has been a cornerstone concept within the international business literature, the so-called “institutional orientation” has recently also become a prominent strategic orientation within the industrial marketing literature (Chaney, Carrillat & Zouari, 2019). While the concept of institutional distance still features quite prominently within the industrial marketing literature (e.g., Cheng & Huang, 2019), recent studies within the international business literature – the home domain of institutional theory within management – have moved away from the concept of “distance” and instead emphasize the role of home and host country contexts (Harzing & Pudelko, 2016). The international business literature has also moved away from the idea of distance as a type of diversity to be managed (Lumineau, Hanisch & Wurtz, 2021; Kostova & Beugelsdijk, 2021). However, what is not clear in existing literature is how such support is facilitated (Lindsay, Rod & Ashill, 2018) and how this support impacts the B2B service internationalization process, as it continues to evolve in keeping up with the changes in the global environment. Moreover, existing research largely focuses on institutional support for B2B service firms undertaking internationalization for the first time rather than post-entry internationalization (Lindsay, Rod & Ashill, 2017). As noted by Torres, Clegg and Varum (2016, p. 496), in referring to government support organizations, “While they [home country (government) support measures towards internationalization] are widely recognized in academic literature, and in policy circles, the process through which they exert their effects is poorly understood, both by academic researchers and policymakers themselves.”

Sample Topics

There is a need for more understanding of why, when and how B2B service firms internationalize, de-internationalize and/or re-internationalize. This special issue welcomes high quality submissions in the form of conceptual and empirical papers that develop new perspectives on the internationalization of B2B service firms to fit the 21st century global landscape marred by VUCA conditions (i.e., volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). Suggested questions of interest include (but not limited to) the following:

For further enquiries regarding this call, please contact one of the guest editors.

Preparation and submission of paper and review process

Papers submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or presently be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Submissions should be about 6,000-8,000 words in length. Copies should be uploaded on Industrial Marketing Management’s homepage through the Editorial management system. You need to upload your paper using the dropdown box for the special issue on VSI: “Int. B2B Service Firms”. For guidelines, visit:

Papers not complying with the notes for contributors (cf. homepage) or poorly written will be desk rejected. Suitable papers will be subjected to a double-blind review; hence, authors must not identify themselves in the body of their paper. Manuscripts within the scope of the special issue (as described above) and deemed to have a reasonable chance of conditional acceptance after no more than two rounds of revisions will enter the review process.


Aguilera, R., & Gr¸gaard, B. (2019). The dubious role of institutions in international business: A road forward. Journal of International Business Studies50(1), 20-35.

Battisti, M., Scott-Kennel, J., & Deakins, D. (2021). A network perspective on foreign entry modes of small knowledge-intensive services firms. European Journal of Marketing55(7), 1979-2011.

Blagoeva, D. H., Jensen, P. D. ¨., & Merchant, H. (2020). Services in International Business Studies: A Replication and Extension of Merchant and Gaur (2008). Management International Review60(3), 427-457.

Boehe, D. M. (2016). The internationalization of service firms from emerging economies: An internalization perspective. Long Range Planning49(5), 559-569.

Cavusgil, S. T., Yeniyurt, S., & Townsend, J. D. (2004). The framework of a global company: A conceptualization and preliminary validation. Industrial Marketing Management33(8), 711-716.

Chan, C. S., & Pattnaik, C. (2021). Coevolution of home country support and internationalization of emerging market firms. International Business Review30(4), 101809.

Chaney, D., Carrillat, F. A., & Zouari, A. (2019). Uncovering institutional orientation as a new strategic orientation in industrial marketing. Industrial Marketing Management80(July), 242-250.

Cheng, H.-L., & Huang, M.-C. (2019). The trade-off between institutionally proximal and distal markets: The impact of home market pressures on firms’ export market selection. Industrial Marketing Management76(January), 98-108.

Chesbrough, H. (2020). To recover faster from Covid-19, open up: Managerial implications from an open innovation perspective. Industrial Marketing Management88(July), 41-413.

Crick, J. M., & Crick, D. (2020). Coopetition and COVID-19: Collaborative business-to-business marketing strategies in a pandemic crisis. Industrial Marketing Management88(July), 206-213.

Dyan, M., & Ndubisi, N. O. (2020). B2B service innovation and global industrial service management. Industrial Marketing Management89(August), 140-142.

Gansser, O. A., Boßow-Thies, S., & Krol, B. (2021). Creating trust and commitment in B2B services. Industrial Marketing Management97(August), 274-285.

Grönroos, C. (2020). Service marketing research priorities. Journal of Services Marketing34(3), 291-298.

Harzing, A.-W., & Pudelko, M. (2016). Do We Need to Distance Ourselves from the Distance Concept? Why Home and Host Country Context Might Matter More Than (Cultural) Distance. Management International Review56(1), 1-34.

Jean, R.-J. (B.), Kim, D., Shin, G.-C., & Hult, T. (2021). Enhancing performance in emerging-market-supplier/MNE-buyer relationships: An examination of the interplay between virtual and relational governance. Industrial Marketing Management93(February), 101-114.

Kostova, T., & Beugelsdijk, S. (2021). Integrating Diversity into Distance Research for Added Rigor, Parsimony, and Relevance. Journal of Management Studies58(6), 1669-1689.

Leonidou, C. N., & Hultman, M. (2019). Global marketing in business-to-business contexts: Challenges, developments, and opportunities. Industrial Marketing Management78(April), 102-107.

Lindsay, V., Rod, M., & Ashill, N. (2017). Institutional and resource configurations associated with different SME foreign market entry modes. Industrial Marketing Management66(October), 130-144.

Lindsay, V., Rod, M., & Ashill, N. (2018). Home Country Institutional Agents (HCIAs) as Boundary Spanners Supporting SME Internationalization. In Leonidou, L. C., Katsikeas, C. S., Samiee, S., & Aykol, B. (Eds.), Advances in Global Marketing (pp. 99-124), Springer, Cham.

Lumineau, F., Hanisch, M., & Wurtz, O. (2021). International Management as Management of Diversity: Reconceptualizing Distance as Diversity. Journal of Management Studies58(6), 1644-1668.

Petricevic, O., & Teece, D. J. (2019). The structural reshaping of globalization: Implications for strategic sectors, profiting from innovation, and the multinational enterprise. Journal of International Business Studies50(9), 1487-1512.

Sheth, J. (2020). Business of business is more than business: Managing during the Covid crisis. Industrial Marketing Management88(July), 261-264.

Taylor, M., Jack, R., Madsen, T., & Alam, M. A. (2021). The nature of service characteristics and their impact on internationalization: A multiple case study of born global firms. Journal of Business Research132(August), 517-529.

Torres, M.M., Clegg, L.J., & Varum, C.A. (2016). The missing link between awareness and use in the uptake of pro-internationalization incentives. International Business Review25(2), 495–510.

Weerawardena, J., Salunke, S., Knight, G., Mort, G. S., & Liesch, P. W. (2020). The learning subsystem interplay in service innovation in born global service firm internationalization. Industrial Marketing Management89(3), 181–195.

Witt, M. A. (2019). De-globalization: Theories, predictions, and opportunities for international business research. Journal of International Business Studies50(7), 1053-1077.


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