Is production the core competence for the internationalization of emerging country firms?
The rise of new multinationals in countries like Brazil provides an opportunity to revisit and carefully construct theories of how firms internationalize, a topic on which extant theory is weak. Brazilian firms are “infant multinationals”, unlike developed country firms that are “mature multinationals”. They are also internationalizing in a very different global context, and can do so on the basis of different competitive advantages than multinationals that came before. Therefore, this study aims at creating subsidies for theory building about early-stage internationalization. Emerging country firms have Production competences as main competitive asset to internationalize, what reflects their competitive positioning in home markets and their entry strategy in international markets. In the case of early-entrants – Western multinationals in the 1950s and Japanese in the 1980s – the Production competence played a key role for successful internationalization. Thus, the focus of the study is the role that the Production competence plays in the internationalization of late-entrants, the emerging country multinationals. The research design considers not only the position of the headquarters but also the initiatives of the subsidiaries and the dynamic interplay between both. The paper allows a better understanding of internationalization processes and the role of Production, when firms start building their own international networks. It brings relevant insights about the paths that are being followed by emerging country multinationals, the difficulties they find, the solutions they develop. These are important inputs not only for new theory building but also for managerial practice.
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