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Learning strategies for international growth: On knowledge acquisition and opportunity realization
Linnaeus University, School of Business and Economics, Department of Organisation and Entrepreneurship.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4159-0847
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Literature on firm internationalization has pointed out knowledge and learning as central components in the internationalization process. While much research has emphasized the development of experience in the firm as the main source of new knowledge, this notion has also been challenged. Furthermore, in internationalization literature, most attention has been paid to market entry and far less to growth in the market thereafter. This research addresses how internationalizing firms capture growth opportunities by acquiring new knowledge in foreign markets. The purpose is to describe and explain how internationalizing firms learn about foreign markets by combining various knowledge sources in order to realize growth opportunities in these markets.

To address this purpose, data from two steps of data collection is analyzed. The first step contains qualitative focus-group data from seven Swedish firms and aims to describe learning from a combination of knowledge sources, which leads to the development of a typology of learning strategies. The tentative results from the first step are established in the second step, which contains survey data from 144 internationalizing Swedish firms. In addition to validating the typology, data from the second step explains heterogeneous knowledge outcomes based on differences in learning strategies, suggesting that a diversified strategy has the greatest potential for learning. These results indicate that external knowledge matters more than what has been previously recognized. Furthermore, the results show curvilinear effects of knowledge of the local network and international spread on the realization of international growth opportunities.

By integrating components from international entrepreneurship, this research may contribute to internationalization-process literature by (1) describing the typology of how internationalizing firms learn in foreign markets, (2) establishing the described types and explaining the knowledge consequences for internationalizing firms, and (3) explaining how this knowledge impacts the ability to realize international opportunities. This chain of components provides the links between learning and growth of the internationalizing firm beyond the initial market entry. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2016. , 77 p.
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations, 252/2016
Keyword [en]
International opportunities; Internationalization; Internationalization knowledge; Learning; Market knowledge
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Economy, Business administration; Economy, Marketing; Economy, Ledarskap, entreprenörskap och organisation
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-52549Libris ID: 19469117ISBN: 978-91-88357-18-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-52549DiVA: diva2:929310
Public defence
2016-06-10, Ny200, Gröndalsvägen 19, Kalmar, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Knowledge FoundationThe Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation
Available from: 2016-05-20 Created: 2016-05-18 Last updated: 2016-11-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. An international learning typology: strategies and outcomes for internationalizing firms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An international learning typology: strategies and outcomes for internationalizing firms
2014 (English)In: Baltic Journal of Management, ISSN 1746-5265, E-ISSN 1746-5273, Vol. 9, no 4, 382-402 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to understand the role of heterogeneous strategies for new knowledge development in the internationalization processes of firms. Design/methodology/approach - A typology of international learning strategies is developed. The typology is supported by a case study of seven Swedish international firms that show heterogeneous strategies. The case study suggests links between learning strategies and international growth. Findings - The results suggest an international learning-strategy typology derived from extant theory on knowledge acquisition in internationalization, constituted by four types: Passive Learners, Endogenous Learners, Exogenous Learners, and Diversified Learners. The results further suggest that the typology is empirically relevant and, moreover, suggest a potential heterogeneity in outcomes for these strategies. The study suggests that there is a link between learning strategy and outcomes in terms of growth and international sales distribution. Research limitations/implications - The strategy for how firms learn when internationalizing has implications for the firm's international growth. The case-study design has limitations for generalizability and future quantitative validation is called for. Practical implications - Managers need to be aware of the consequences of their learning strategy for the internationalization performance. This study informs strategic decision making for how to learn from international markets. Originality/value - The results suggest a typology based on heterogeneity of international learning strategies and their consequences for internationalization.

Keyword
Knowledge management, Internationalization, Learning, Knowledge acquisition, Learning strategy
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Economy, Organisation theory
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-38157 (URN)10.1108/BJM-12-2013-0176 (DOI)000343321200001 ()2-s2.0-84926345744 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2014-11-13 Created: 2014-11-13 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. International opportunity realization in firm internationalization: non-linear effects of market-specific knowledge and internationalization knowledge
Open this publication in new window or tab >>International opportunity realization in firm internationalization: non-linear effects of market-specific knowledge and internationalization knowledge
2015 (English)In: Journal of International Entrepreneurship, ISSN 1570-7385, E-ISSN 1573-7349, Vol. 13, no 3, 242-259 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study focuses on determinants of the realization of international opportunities. Market knowledge and internationalization knowledge are applied in order to understand how opportunities are realized in internationalization, and these relations are tested for linearity. The study relies on data collected from 144 Swedish firms that export to the Baltic States, Poland, Russia, and China. The results of the study give a theoretical contribution concerning growth behavior beyond early internationalization by integrating learning dimensions from internationalization theory and international opportunities from international entrepreneurship. The results suggest that knowledge about the local business network is significantly associated with international opportunity realization, with an increasing marginal effect. The non-linearity gives an accelerated effect of further learning about the local business network. The results also suggest that multiple national contexts are beneficial to a certain point, after which the marginal effect is negative, thus exhibiting an inverted U-shape. This advocates that a firm’s capability to realize opportunities in international markets is developed positively from the initial internationalization but only to a certain point. Consequently, there is a threshold for when the marginal effect of further internationalization becomes negative for international opportunity realization. Non-significant results for knowledge about the institutional context suggest a downplayed role of the institutional context in favor to the business network. Furthermore, non-significant results for international depth show that time in international markets may be less important than diversity in international contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2015
Keyword
International opportunities, Opportunity realization, Internationalization knowledge, Market knowledge
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Economy, Marketing; Economy, Ledarskap, entreprenörskap och organisation
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-51329 (URN)10.1007/s10843-015-0152-x (DOI)2-s2.0-84941735029 (Scopus ID)
Funder
The Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation, P2010-0223:1
Available from: 2016-03-24 Created: 2016-03-24 Last updated: 2017-11-30Bibliographically approved
3. Knowledge-acquisition strategies and the effects on market knowledge – profiling the internationalizing firm
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Knowledge-acquisition strategies and the effects on market knowledge – profiling the internationalizing firm
2015 (English)In: European Management Journal, ISSN 0263-2373, E-ISSN 1873-5681, Vol. 33, no 2, 79-88 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Knowledge management and experiential knowledge in particular has for long been at the core of theory on the behavior of internationalizing firms. However, the strong emphasis on direct experience in extant literature has been challenged. This study addresses the influence of various knowledge-acquisition strategies on market knowledge. Empirical studies on this topic are largely missing. The empirical base for this study is 144 internationalizing Swedish firms operating in the Baltic States, Poland, Russia, or China. Four knowledge acquisition strategies are identified based on the utilization of knowledge sources. The strategies are profiled through a cluster analysis, which is validated using a regression analysis to show the effects of strategy on market knowledge. The results show that firms with a passive strategy have less market knowledge. Firms that are focusing primarily on internal or external sources hold equal levels of knowledge about the market. Firms actively utilizing all available sources have the highest levels of market knowledge. This calls for a reevaluation of the relative importance of direct experiential knowledge in internationalization processes and supports the notion that more sources of knowledge than direct experience need to be taken into account in order to understand internationalization behavior.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2015
Keyword
Knowledge acquisition, Internationalizing firm, Market knowledge, Learning strategy
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Economy, Business administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-42214 (URN)10.1016/j.emj.2014.06.003 (DOI)000353738600003 ()2-s2.0-84937191451 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2015-04-13 Created: 2015-04-13 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved

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