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Bringing history (back) into international business

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  • Geoffrey Jones

    (Harvard Business School, Boston, USA)

  • Tarun Khanna

    (Harvard Business School, Boston, USA)

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    Abstract

    We argue that the field of international business should evolve its rhetoric from the relatively uncontroversial idea that ‘history matters’ to exploring how it matters. We discuss four conceptual channels through which history matters, illustrating each with a major example. First, historical variation is at least a worthy complement to contemporary cross-sectional variation in illuminating conceptual issues. As an example, we show that conclusions reached by the literature on contemporary emerging market business groups are remarkably similar to independently reached conclusions about a very similar organizational form that was ubiquitous in the age of empire. Second, historical evidence avoids spurious labeling of some phenomena as ‘new’, and by so doing may challenge current explanations of their determinants. Whereas some firm types today were also present earlier, some types have disappeared, some have appeared, and some have disappeared and reappeared later. Third, history can allow us to move beyond the oft-recognized importance of issues of path dependence to explore the roots of Penrosian resources. We argue that the choices made by Jardine's and Swire's in Asia today, for example, are an outgrowth of strategic choices first in evidence more than a century ago. These would remain obscured absent an historical analysis. Fourth, there are certain issues that are unaddressable, except in the really long (that is, historical) run. Exploring the causal relationship (if any) between foreign direct investment, a staple of the international business literature, and long-run economic development provides one important example. Throughout, we advocate embracing rigorous methods for analyzing small-sample and qualitative data when conventional regression techniques do not apply. That is, we suggest that re-embracing history in the mainstream is not tantamount to sacrificing methodological rigor. Journal of International Business Studies (2006) 37,, 453–468. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400198

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal Journal of International Business Studies.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 4 (July)
    Pages: 453-468

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    Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:453-468

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    Cited by:
    1. Syed Anwar & Susan Tariq, 2011. "Evolution of entrepreneurship and organizational configurations at Zildjian, 1623–2010," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 175-194, September.
    2. Cunha, Joao Vieira da & Clegg, Stewart R. & Cunha, Miguel Pina e, 2008. "Structuring For Glocalization: The Minimal Network," FEUNL Working Paper Series wp536, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
    3. Fortanier, Fabienne & Tulder, Rob van, 2008. "Internationalization trajectories - a crosscountry comparison: Are large Chinese and Indian companies different?," MERIT Working Papers 054, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    4. Bucheli, Marcelo, 2007. "The Politics of Vertical Integration in Extractive Industries: Business History and Political Economy," Working Papers 07-0112, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
    5. Tarun Khanna & Yishay Yafeh, 2007. "Business Groups in Emerging Markets: Paragons or Parasites?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(2), pages 331-372, June.
    6. Decker, Stephanie, 2012. "The silence of the archive: post-colonialism and the practice of historical reconstruction from archival evidence," MPRA Paper 37280, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Welch, Catherine L. & Welch, Lawrence S., 2009. "Re-internationalisation: Exploration and conceptualisation," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 567-577, December.
    8. Aggarwal, Raj & Berrill, Jenny & Hutson, Elaine & Kearney, Colm, 2011. "What is a multinational corporation? Classifying the degree of firm-level multinationality," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 557-577, October.
    9. van Veen, Kees & Sahib, Padma Rao & Aangeenbrug, Evelien, 2014. "Where do international board members come from? Country-level antecedents of international board member selection in European boards," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 407-417.
    10. Velu, C. & Iyer, S., 2008. "The Rationality of Irrationality for Managers: Returns- Based Beliefs and the Traveller’s Dilemma," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0826, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    11. Chakrabarty, Subrata, 2009. "The influence of national culture and institutional voids on family ownership of large firms: A country level empirical study," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 32-45, March.
    12. Niraj, Shekhar K. & Dayal, Vikram & Krausman, Paul R., 2010. "Applying methodological pluralism to wildlife and the economy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1610-1616, June.

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