Special Issue of the Journal of International Business Studies





Special Issue Editors:


·         Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra (Northeastern University, USA, [log in to unmask])

·         Gerard George (Georgetown University, USA, [log in to unmask])

·         Grazia D. Santangelo (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, [log in to unmask])

·         Laszlo Tihanyi (Rice University, USA, [log in to unmask])

·         Xufei Ma (Tsinghua University, China, [log in to unmask])

·         Lemma Senbet (University of Maryland, USA, [log in to unmask])

·         Supervising Editor: Jonathan Doh (Villanova University, USA, [log in to unmask])


Deadline for Submission: October 15, 2023



Motivation for the Special Issue

Grand Challenges are complex problems with no easy solutions, which transcend national borders and affect future generations. These Grand Challenges, such as climate change, global health, forced migration, food security, financial underdevelopment and infrastructure gaps, capital flight and illicit flows, have usually been discussed as the purview of governments. This view was reflected in the 2000 United Nations Millennium Development Goals encouraging governments to end extreme poverty by 2015 (United Nations, 2000) and in the 2015 update and extension as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) which set to improve lives and protect the planet by 2030 (United Nations, 2015). Particular attention was given to finance for development with the UN convening in Addis Ababa (2015), which yielded a new global framework for sustainable finance to support the SDGs and the 2030 agenda (United Nations, 2015). In this context, one grand challenge, which has an adverse impact on development and for which some multinational enterprises (MNEs) are complicit, has been massive capital flight and illicit flows, particularly from low-income countries. For example, in the case of Africa, an estimated $88.6 billion leaves the continent every year with an aggregate $836 billion recorded for the period 2000-2015, in excess of the corresponding debt stock of $770 billion, making Africa a “net creditor to the world.” (UNCTAD, 2021). In this regard, Grand challenges draw attention to the potential role of MNEs in both enabling and mitigating them (Montiel, Cuervo-Cazurra, Park, Antolín-López, & Husted, 2021).


MNEs are uniquely positioned to effectively address Grand Challenges given their size, global reach, and market and nonmarket power. Societies increasingly expect financial and non-financial MNEs to contribute to solutions to Grand Challenges and expand their traditional roles by, for example, promoting human rights, improving labor and environmental standards (Wettstein, Giuliani, Santangelo, & Stahl 2019; Maggioni, Santangelo & Koymen-Ozer 2019), and fostering financial inclusion and development (Allen, Carleti, Senbet, Vanzuela, 2021). Moreover, these increasing societal expectations for responsible corporate practice and some long-standing global initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact, have pressured MNEs to rethink their responsible conduct as an integral part of their strategy (Global Reporting Initiative & United Nations Global Compact, 2018). They have also motivated MNE leaders to consider how their firms’ impose externalities on local communities and integrate these factors into their decision-making and corporate strategy (George & Schillebeeckx, 2022). As a result, MNEs are called to assume the role of positive organizational actors, actively providing public goods, and protecting global commons (Boddewyn & Doh, 2011; Scherer, Palazzo & Mattern, 2014). These externalities can be both positive (e.g., Covid-19 vaccine production) and negative (e.g., environmental degradation), calling for incentive and institutional mechanisms to maximize the positive and mitigate the negative (Gande, John, Nair & Senbet, 2020).


Calls for new research directions and theorizing about Grand Challenges have emerged in international business (Buckley, Doh & Benischke, 2017); management (Cabral, Mahoney, McGahan & Potoski, 2019; George, Howard-Grenville, Joshi & Tihanyi, 2016, Voegtlin, Scherer, Stahl & Hawn, 2022); and finance (e.g., Gande, John, Nair, Senbet, 2020). These calls parallel debates on the societal relevance of management research, the importance of phenomenon-driven research, and the meaning of impact in international business (Doh, Budhwar, & Wood, 2021) and management research (Tihanyi, 2020; Wickert, Post, Doh, Prescott & Prencipe, 2021).


Most recently, under its new editorial team, JIBS has created a Societal Impact Advisory Committee (SIAC) to provide advice to editors and authors on attracting, reviewing and enhancing the contributions of manuscripts on topics related to the Grand Challenges. Such research can potentially contribute to the betterment of societies, locally or globally, through influencing or enabling positive IB practices and supporting the objective of “making JIBS matter for a better world.”


This special issue aims to contribute to and guide this ongoing conversation by bringing attention to MNEs’ solutions to Grand Challenges. This focus originates from the notion that MNEs are in a privileged position to address Grand Challenges and offer impactful solutions because Grand Challenges transcend national borders and require cross-country answers. We are interested in submissions that focus on particular actions or initiatives taken by MNEs to solve specific Grand Challenges. We also solicit studies that investigate the behavior of diverse groups of actors participating and collaborating with MNEs, including governments, transnational, hybrid, and not-for-profit organizations to provide solutions (Teegen, Doh, & Vachani 2004). They can even take the form of local initiatives that are scaled and adopted by MNEs and international organizations in other geographies and jurisdictions as solutions to Grand Challenges. These solutions may involve strategic, operational, financial, marketing, technological, or other approaches that leverage MNEs’ capabilities, often in conjunction with private, public, and not-for-profit partners. For example, MNEs, NGOs, governments, and international financial institutions have collaborated to create and replicate an innovative finance mechanism to support more than four hundred water investment funds worldwide. The funds link downstream water users who jointly invest in upstream land conservation and restoration to solve pollution and water scarcity at the source rather than treat water at the destination to address global freshwater shortages (Allen et al., 2017).


The study of solutions to Grand Challenges not only can help advance the topic itself but also enrich theories more broadly by questioning some assumptions of existing models and approaches. We consider three complementary ways this can unfold: global commons, wellbeing, and externalities. First, extant models overlook the effect of MNEs on global commons. The analysis of solutions to Grand Challenges opens an opportunity to rethink how MNEs – alone or in conjunction with public and private stakeholders – can manage global resources with unclear ownership and difficult contracting (Ostrom, 1990). Second, many theories assume that MNEs and other business organizations focus on value capture. According to this perspective, incentives are aligned to ensure the bulk of value creation is captured by the MNE with little value left for other stakeholders. The study of solutions to Grand Challenges offers an opportunity to consider MNE value creation for a wider range of stakeholders (Scherer, Palazzo, & Matten, 2014; Gande, John, Nair, Senbet, 2020), and encourages a refocus of MNEs’ operations from welfare to wellbeing promotion in local societies (Santangelo, 2018). Third, theoretical models rarely consider the full extent of the externalities of MNEs activities. The special issue provides new opportunities to study how MNEs can be proactive actors that reduce negative externalities and promote positive ones (Oetzel & Doh, 2009).



Overview of the Special Issue

The focus of this Special Issue is to provide a deep understanding of how MNEs contribute solutions to Grand Challenges. Grand Challenges are, by definition, complex, and by extension, solutions reflect this complexity. One approach to simplify this complexity is to group them under three main categories – environmental, societal, and economic Grand Challenges – which mirror the concepts of commons, wellbeing, and externalities that underpin each of these challenges. Studies submitted to the special issue can address one or several questions within each of these.


For example, among the solutions to environmental Grand Challenges, we have the all-important issue of global environmental commons, including issues such as biodiversity, the air and seas, and scarce natural resources. In this regard, some questions to consider include: What incentives can prompt MNEs to assume a broader “political” role (Scherer, Palazzo, & Matten, 2014) and, thus, protect and promote global commons? When and where do MNEs harm global commons, and what are the solutions to mitigating those harms? When and why do MNEs shift their narratives, behaviors, and products from harm mitigation to planet regeneration? How does MNEs’ transfer of technologies and organizational practices contribute to the solution of the overexploitation of natural resources? Under what conditions and for which kinds of challenges are MNEs inclined to focus on their own potential contributions and responses, and when will they collaborate with other public and non-profit actors to provide solutions? Within these global commons, a particularly important one is climate change and its challenge to energy-intensive activities and development models. Many questions remain open. How are climate change considerations incorporated into the decisions of MNEs and the solutions they offer? How can MNEs contribute to the green transition at home and abroad? How do MNEs collaborate with suppliers and distributors worldwide to rethink the lifecycle of the products and address climate change issues? How can public and private financial mechanisms be leveraged to effectively conserve natural resources?


Among solutions to societal Grand Challenges, a large variety of issues related to societal wellbeing can be explored. These include: Which societal Grand Challenges lend themselves to responses from MNEs alone and which naturally require collaborative partnerships? What types of partnerships are most effective in responding to societal Grand Challenges? Some specific societal Grand Challenges include food insecurity and involuntary global migration. Food security has been connected to the welfare that MNEs’ activities can generate in the host country (Mihalache-O’Keef & Li 2011, World Bank 2010). A refocus on wellbeing requires answering questions like: How and under which conditions can MNEs help improve food security? Traditionally, migrants have been regarded as facilitators of foreign operations and performance (Hernandez 2014). More recently, the global refugee crisis has shifted attention to wellbeing (Guo, Al Ariss, & Brewster, 2020). A number of questions arise, such as: How can MNEs facilitate the integration of forced migrants within their workforce and into host societies without engaging in exploitive or unethical practices? And one that has become clear during the pandemic is the challenge of global health and questions such as: How do MNEs manage intellectual property rights when solving global health crises? How can microfinance and other financing approaches create more inclusive societies?


There are also solutions to economic Grand Challenges, which can take a multiplicity of forms, most driven by some aspects of externalities, especially around the promotion of sustainable economic development (Blomström & Kokko, 1998; Meyer & Sinani, 2009). A traditional perspective regards these externalities as a by-product of foreign operations (Oetzel & Doh, 2009), giving rise to questions such as: How can MNEs’ proactiveness toward promoting positive and mitigating negative externalities be incorporated into the theoretical explanations of when and how to internalize versus externalize? What will be a system of incentives, governance, and institutional mechanisms that help mitigate negative externalities and sustain, or even amplify, positive externalities produced by MNEs? How can MNEs balance the contribution to positive externalities and their for-profit raison d’être in the face of Grand Challenges? How can MNEs help solve the negative externalities of their economic activities? What issues require MNEs to work alone, in conjunction with other MNEs, or in collaboration with non-profit and governmental partners to solve economic Grand Challenges? How do MNEs contribute to sustainable economic development that balances local needs and broader corporate objectives? How do MNEs engage in a race to the top and prioritize local wellbeing in terms of, for instance, workplace health and safety over cost savings? How do new technologies such as blockchain, remote sensing, artificial intelligence, or geospatial mapping shape the actions of MNEs to ensure transparency, compliance, governance, and stakeholder engagement? What innovative financial approaches can facilitate sustainable development? What is the role of financial MNEs, small and large, in fostering financial inclusion and innovation (e.g., fintech) that is appropriate for inclusive economic development?  How damaging are illicit financial flows and capital flight to the SDGs and what incentives and governance mechanisms can limit such flows? What is the role of MNCs in enabling or deterring such flows? What is the scope of tax avoidance and profit sharing? How valid are existing approaches and methods in measuring capital flight and illicit flows?


Given the complex nature of Grand Challenges, this Special Issue provides a forum for authors to advance both theory and offer new insights into Grand Challenges incorporating a diversity of approaches. Studies should consider the contextual considerations that are core to international business and affect the responses to the Grand Challenges. These include geopolitics, the technological landscape, institutions, and market competition, all salient contextual aspects that characterize the environment in which MNEs operate and make strategic decisions. As such, we expect submissions also to consider how these contextual conditions influence how MNEs devise solutions to Grand Challenges and the specific solutions they advance. Additionally, we encourage awareness and appreciation of both advanced and emerging countries, including low-income countries, and their differing scholarly traditions and management practices in tackling Grand Challenges (Barkema, Chen, George, Luo, & Tsui, 2015). A focus on MNEs’ solutions to Grand Challenges among all world regions allows scholars to tap into concepts and theories from these varied contexts (Tung & Stahl, 2018). Thus, we welcome studies that go beyond traditional and developed country MNEs, to generate new insights by exploring how emerging market MNEs (Luo & Tung, 2018) and digital MNEs (Nambisan & Luo, 2022) tackle Grand Challenges. Moreover, we welcome a wide range of empirical and conceptual papers from diverse academic domains to make the Special Issue multidisciplinary in scope and interdisciplinary in methodology. We seek to make the Special Issue a valuable base for a deep understanding of Grand Challenges and, more importantly, MNEs’ impactful solutions to such challenges.



Deadline and Submission Instructions

Authors should submit their manuscripts between October 1 and 15, 2023, via the Journal of International Business Studies submission system at To ensure that your submission is correctly identified for consideration for this Special Issue, please select “Special Issue: Grand Challenges” from the Article Type list. Manuscripts should be prepared following the JIBS submission guidelines, available at


All submissions will go through the standard double-blind review process. The guest editors plan to host a paper development workshop for manuscripts that have advanced through the revision process in 2024. Such a workshop will allow authors to improve their manuscripts and enhance and sharpen the potential value of their contribution. It will also provide a community for scholars studying the topic. Participation in the workshop is neither a requirement nor a promise of final acceptance of the paper in the special issue. The guest editors also plan to organize panels at major conferences featuring some of the articles accepted for the special issue.


Questions about the Special Issue may be directed to the guest editors (please select copy all editors in your communication) and the JIBS Managing Editor ([log in to unmask]).




Abell, R., et al. 2017. Beyond the source: The environmental, economic and community benefits of source water protection. The Nature Conservancy.

Allen, F., Carleti, E., Cull, R., Qian, J., Senbet, L., & Valenzuela, P. 2021. Improving access to banking. Review of Finance, 25(2), 403–447.

Barkema, H.G., Chen, X., George, G., Luo, Y., & Tsui, A., 2015. West meets East: new concepts and theories. Academy of Management Journal, 58 (2), 460-479.

Boddewyn, J., & Doh, J. P.  2011. Global Strategy and the Collaboration of MNEs, Governments and NGOs for the Provisioning of Collective Goods in Emerging Markets. Global Strategy Journal, 1, 345-361.

Blomström, M., & Kokko, A. 1998. Multinational corporations and spillovers. Journal of Economic surveys, 12(3), 247-277.

Buckley, P. J., Doh, J. P., & Benischke, M. H. 2017. Towards a renaissance in international business research? Big questions, grand challenges, and the future of IB scholarship. Journal of International Business Studies, 48(9), 1045-1064.

Cabral, S., Mahoney, J. T., McGahan, A. M., & Potoski, M. 2019. Value creation and value appropriation in public and non-profit organizations. Strategic Management Journal, 40(4), 465-475.

Doh, J., Budhwar, P. & Wood, G. 2021. Long-term energy transitions and international business: Concepts, theory, methods, and a research agenda. Journal of International Business Studies, 52(5): 951–970.

Gande, A., John, K., Nair, R., & Senbet, L., 2020. Taxes, institutions, and innovation: Theory and international evidence. Journal of International Business Studies 51, 1413–1442.

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Hernandez, E. 2014. Finding a home away from home: Effects of immigrants on firms’ foreign location choice and performance. Administrative Science Quarterly, 59(1), 73-108.

Luo, Y., & Tung, R. 2018. A general theory of springboard MNEs. Journal of International Business Studies, 49, 129–152

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Maggioni, D., Santangelo, G. D., & Koymen-Ozer, S. 2019. MNEs’ location strategies and labor standards: The role of operating and reputational considerations across industries. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(6), 948-972.

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Montiel, I., Cuervo-Cazurra, A., Park, J., Antolín-López, R., & Husted, B. W. 2021. Implementing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals in international business. Journal of International Business Studies, 52(5), 999-1030.

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Santangelo, G.D. 2018. The impact of FDI in land in agriculture in developing countries on host country food security. Journal of World Business, 53(1), 75-84.

Scherer, A. G., Palazzo, G., & Matten, D. 2014. The business firm as a political actor: A new theory of the firm for a globalized world. Business & Society, 53(2), 143-156.

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Tihanyi, L. 2020. From “that’s interesting” to “that’s important”. Academy of Management Journal, 63(2), 329-331.

Tung, R., & Stahl, G. 2018. The tortuous evolution of the role of culture in IB research: What we know, what we don’t know, and where we are headed. Journal of International Business Studies, 49, 1167–1189

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Wickert, C., Post, C., Doh, J. P., Prescott, J. E., & Prencipe, A. 2021. Management research that makes a difference: Broadening the meaning of impact. Journal of Management Studies, 58(2), 297-320.

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About the Guest Editors


Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra (Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is Professor of Global Strategy and the Lloyd Mullin Research Fellow at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University. He has two main research interests, global strategic management, and global sustainable governance. He studies them using economic thinking and focusing on the role of the contextual conditions on strategic decisions. In global strategic management, he studies how institutions drive firms to upgrade their technological capabilities and become multinationals. In global sustainable governance, he explains how norms drive owners’ influence on strategies and sustainability. Professor Cuervo-Cazurra was elected Fellow of the Academy of International Business Studies, and received an Honorary Doctorate from Copenhagen Business School, a silver medal from Journal of International Business Studies, six best paper awards, the best dissertation award from the Strategy Division of the Academy of Management, eleven best reviewer awards from journals and conferences, and an outstanding service award from the Academy of International Business. He is co-editor of Global Strategy Journal. He served on the Executive Committee of the Academy of Management’s International Management Division and as Representative-at-Large of the Strategic Management Society’s Global Strategy Group. He teaches courses on global strategy and sustainability at the undergraduate, masters, executive and Ph.D. levels, and is an independent consultant on internationalization and global strategy.


Gerard (Gerry) George (Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University) is Brown Family Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Professor of Management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Prior to joining Georgetown, he was Dean and Lee Kong Chian Chair Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business. Previously, he served as Deputy Dean of the Business School at Imperial College London and held tenured positions at London Business School and University of Wisconsin-Madison. An award-winning researcher and teacher, he has published over 100 articles on the topics of innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability and tackling grand challenges in society. From 2013 to 2016, he was Editor of the Academy of Management Journal, and led the editorial team on Grand Challenges in Management special research forum. He received an honorary doctorate in economics from the University of St. Gallen for intellectual contributions to the fields of strategic management, innovation and entrepreneurship. He is Senior Global Fellow at the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.


Grazia D. Santangelo (Ph.D., University of Reading) is Professor of Strategic and International Management at Copenhagen Business School and visiting professor at Henley Business School (UK). Before joining Copenhagen Business School, she held a Jean Monnet Chair in International Business at the University of Catania (Italy). She researches across the fields of international business, global strategy, and innovation. Her current research focuses on how firms deal with grand challenges and ethical issues, how they strategize about their intangibles around the globe, the evolution of firms’ internationalization process, and the nexus between institutions and firms’ cross-border strategy. Her research has been published in leading academic journals, such as Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Economic Geography and Research Policy, and has been recognized with a number of international awards. She has also received a number of best reviewer awards. She has served as Reviewing Editor of Journal of International Business Studies (2019-2022) and is a member of the editorial review board of Academy of Management Review. She assumed the position of Associate Editor of Journal of International Management and Industry & Innovation. Grazia is an elected Fellow of the Academy of International Business and European International Business Academy (EIBA). She is also an elected member of the Executive Committee of the International Management (IM) Division of the Academy of Management (2021-2025). She served as Chair of the Research Committee of the IM Division (2016-2020), representative-at-large of the Global Strategy Interest Group of the Strategic Management Society (2018-2021) and as former EIBA president (2007).


Laszlo Tihanyi (Ph.D., Indiana University) is the William Alexander Kirkland Chair and Professor of Strategic Management in the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. He held visiting positions at Duke University, Indiana University, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, the University of Groningen, and the University of Melbourne. His main research areas are corporate governance in multinational firms, internationalization, and organizational adaptation in emerging economies. His current research explores the involvement of institutional investors in foreign direct investment, the institutional environment of internationalization decisions, and the effects of social movements on multinational firms. His papers have been published in the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, and others. He is currently serving as the Editor of the Academy of Management Journal.


Xufei Ma (Ph.D., National University of Singapore) is Terry Gou Chair Professor at School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua University. Before joining Tsinghua, he held tenured positions at Chinese University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong. His current research examines strategy, innovation, and management of multinational and entrepreneurial firms in and from emerging economies. He has published in journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, and Journal of Business Venturing. He was the winner of the Haynes Prize for the Most Promising Scholar awarded by Academy of International Business, a Dunning Visiting Fellow of the John H. Dunning Center for International Business, and a recipient of JIBS Silver Medal for Outstanding Contributions. He served as a guest editor for Journal of International Business Studies and Journal of Management Studies, and a senior editor for Management and Organization Review and Asia Pacific Journal of Management. He is an Area Editor of Journal of International Business Studies (2023-2025).


Lemma W. Senbet (Ph.D., University at Buffalo, SUNY) is the William E. Mayer Chair Professor of Finance at the University of Maryland, College Park. Prof Senbet served as Executive Director/CEO of African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), 2013-2018, the oldest and largest economic research and training network serving the continent of Africa. Prior to Maryland, he was a distinguished professor of finance at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and held the Charles Albright Chair.  Prof Senbet is internationally recognized for his widely cited contributions to corporate and international finance, which have appeared in such top journals as Journal of Finance, Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Business, Review of Finance, JIBS, etc. He has published on wide-ranging issues, including agency conflicts and financial contracting, financial distress and financial crisis, banking regulation and incentives, corporate governance, and valuation effects of multinational corporate diversification, etc. He has been associate editor for over a dozen journals, including extended tenure at the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Financial Management (FM). Moreover, he was a two-term Executive Editor of FM and has been serving Editor (Finance), JIBS. Professor Senbet has received numerous honors and recognitions for his impact on the profession. He has been elected twice to the board of directors of the American Finance Association and is a past president of the Western Finance Association. In 2000, Prof Senbet was inducted into the Financial Economists Roundtable. In 2005, he was awarded Honorary Doctorate degree from Addis Ababa University. In 2006, Professor Senbet was inducted Fellow of Financial Management Association (FMA). In 2021, Prof Senbet was appointed to the newly established Council of Independent Economic Advisors by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. In 2022, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of International Business (AIB).  


Jonathan Doh (Ph.D., George Washington University) is Associate Dean of Research and Global Engagement, Rammrath Chair in International Business, Co-Faculty Director of the Center for Global Leadership, and Professor of Management at the Villanova School of Business. Previously, he was on the faculty of American and Georgetown Universities and a trade official with the U.S. Department of Commerce, with responsibilities related to NAFTA and North American trade. Jonathan is author or co-author of more than 85 refereed articles, 35 chapters, a dozen teaching cases and simulations, and nine books. His articles have appeared in Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Perspectives, Business Ethics Quarterly, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, MIS Quarterly, Organization Science, and Strategic Management Journal. His co-authored books include Multinationals and Development (Yale University Press, 2007), NGOs and Corporations: Conflict and Collaboration (Cambridge University Press, 2009), Aligning for Advantage: Competitive Strategies for the Political and Social Arenas (Oxford University Press, 2014), and International Management: Culture, Strategy, and Behavior (McGraw-Hill/Irwin), the best-selling international management text which is in its 12th edition.  He has been Associate or Consulting Editor of numerous journals and was Editor-in-Chief of Journal of World Business from 2014-2018. In January of 2020, he assumed the position of General Editor for Journal of Management Studies. He is a fellow of both the Academy of International Business and the Academy of Management. In the most recent global ranking by scholars at Stanford University of scientists and their intellectual contributions, he was ranked 298 out of 44,945 in business management, placing him among the top 0.65%.




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