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The internationalization of ethnic Chinese business firms from Southeast Asia: strategies, processes and competitive advantage


  • Henry Wai-Chung Yeung


The dynamic growth of many Southeast Asian countries in recent years has created a centrifugal force prompting the internationalization of established ethnic Chinese business firms in these countries. This paper aims to examine the strategies and processes of this internationalization and to assess the firms' competitive advantage in the regional and global economies. It argues that the internationalization of ethnic Chinese business firms from Southeast Asia can be explained by their firm-specific strategies and the changing geographical contexts in which they are embedded and their strategies are implemented. First, these firms face increasing competition at a global scale and are compelled to engage in transnational operations as a strategy to sustain growth and expansion. Second, changing institutional contexts in home and host countries provide another key impetus to their transnational drive. While they begin to realize the limits to growth in their home countries because of growing foreign competition and ethnicity-based economic policies, these Chinese business firms are more sensitive to growth opportunities elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. As such, a comprehensive explanation of their transnational activities needs to examine both the changing configurations of operating contexts and their strategies of global competition. To support its main claims, the paper presents some detailed case studies of ethnic Chinese-controlled transnational corporations based in Southeast Asia. Copyright Joint Editors and Blackwell Publishers Ltd 1999.

Suggested Citation

  • Henry Wai-Chung Yeung, 1999. "The internationalization of ethnic Chinese business firms from Southeast Asia: strategies, processes and competitive advantage," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 88-102, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ijurrs:v:23:y:1999:i:1:p:88-102

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    Cited by:

    1. Richardson, Christopher, 2014. "Firm internationalisation within the Muslim world," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 386-395.
    2. Priebe, Jan & Rudolf, Robert, 2015. "Does the Chinese Diaspora Speed Up Growth in Host Countries?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 249-262.
    3. Rana, Mohammad B. & Elo, Maria, 2017. "Transnational Diaspora and Civil Society Actors Driving MNE Internationalisation: The Case of Grameenphone in Bangladesh," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 87-106.
    4. Ramos, Hazel Melanie & Man, Thomas Wing Yan & Mustafa, Michael & Ng, Zuie Zuie, 2014. "Psychological ownership in small family firms: Family and non-family employees’ work attitudes and behaviours," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 300-311.
    5. H. Yeung, 2006. "Change and Continuity in Southeast Asian Ethnic Chinese Business," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 229-254, September.
    6. Thite, Mohan & Wilkinson, Adrian & Budhwar, Pawan & Mathews, John A., 2016. "Internationalization of emerging Indian multinationals: Linkage, leverage and learning (LLL) perspective," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 435-443.
    7. Johl, Shireenjit & Subramaniam, Nava & Mat Zain, Mazlina, 2012. "Audit Committee and CEO Ethnicity and Audit fees: Some Malaysian evidence," The International Journal of Accounting, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 302-332.
    8. Ficici, Aysun & Wang, Lingling & Aybar, C. Bulent & Fan, Bo, 2014. "The Correlation between the Internationalization Processes and Performance of Firms: The Case of Emerging Market Firms of the BRIC Countries," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 4-25.
    9. Aysun FICICI & Lingling WANG & Bulent AYBAR & Bo FAN, 2014. "The Correlation between the Internationalization Processes and Performance of Firms: The Case of Emerging Market Firms of the BRIC Countries," Journal of Economics and Political Economy, KSP Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 4-25, September.
    10. Daniel Haberly & Dariusz Wójcik, 2015. "Regional Blocks and Imperial Legacies: Mapping the Global Offshore FDI Network," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 91(3), pages 251-280, July.
    11. Contractor, Farok J. & Kumar, Vikas & Kundu, Sumit K., 2007. "Nature of the relationship between international expansion and performance: The case of emerging market firms," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 401-417, December.

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