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Contextualizing in International Business research: Why do we need more of it and how can we be better at it?


  • Michailova, Snejina


Summary This paper joins the academic conversation about context and contextualization in Management and International Business (IB) research. I explain why it is both relevant and interesting to debate issues of context and contextualization and, as an IB scholar myself, I argue that while IB as a discipline can and should be at the forefront of meaningful contextualization of research, the current situation is that it is not. I maintain that we are much too often context-blind or blindfold ourselves intentionally against context. I advocate that there is no justification for this state of affairs and offer suggestions as to how we can improve the status quo. I propose that we are well equipped to conduct deep contextualization rather than merely study processes and phenomena across contexts. More specifically, I argue that we should include contextual attributes in our theorizing in a more direct manner, without fearing that causal explanation suffers from contextualization. I make the point that we will benefit from presenting and discussing our methodological choices as tough decisions based on multiple context-related criteria and that voicing context can help us to be stronger in selecting, employing and justifying our methodologies. I take issue with the fact that conducting IB research in research teams that transcend countries (and other contexts) does not, per se, guarantee that the team research is context-sensitive. Finally, I emphasize that it is meaningful and responsible to report context in a genuine manner as this helps to provide details that are relevant to understanding and trusting our findings even though it does not, in general, help in winning the academic publishing race.

Suggested Citation

  • Michailova, Snejina, 2011. "Contextualizing in International Business research: Why do we need more of it and how can we be better at it?," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 129-139, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:scaman:v:27:y:2011:i:1:p:129-139

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    Cited by:

    1. Dimitratos, Pavlos & Buck, Trevor & Fletcher, Margaret & Li, Nicolas, 2016. "The motivation of international entrepreneurship: The case of Chinese transnational entrepreneurs," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 1103-1113.
    2. Eriksson, Taina & Nummela, Niina & Saarenketo, Sami, 2014. "Dynamic capability in a small global factory," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 169-180.
    3. Dimitratos, Pavlos & Johnson, Jeffrey E. & Plakoyiannaki, Emmanuella & Young, Stephen, 2016. "SME internationalization: How does the opportunity-based international entrepreneurial culture matter?," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1211-1222.
    4. repec:eee:worbus:v:53:y:2018:i:3:p:392-402 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Makhmadshoev, Dilshod & Ibeh, Kevin & Crone, Mike, 2015. "Institutional influences on SME exporters under divergent transition paths: Comparative insights from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1025-1038.
    6. repec:spr:manint:v:55:y:2015:i:6:d:10.1007_s11575-015-0252-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:pal:jintbs:v:48:y:2017:i:8:d:10.1057_s41267-017-0110-z is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Maria Elo, 2016. "Typology of diaspora entrepreneurship: Case studies in Uzbekistan," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 121-155, March.
    9. Michailova, Snejina & Mustaffa, Zaidah, 2012. "Subsidiary knowledge flows in multinational corporations: Research accomplishments, gaps, and opportunities," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 383-396.
    10. Manuel Portugal Ferreira & Fernando A. Ribeiro Serra & Benny Kramer Costa, 2011. "The RBV in International Business Studies: A bibliometric study of Barney?s (1991) contribution to the field," Working Papers 82, globADVANTAGE, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria.
    11. Leila Hurmerinta & Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki & Mélanie E. Hassett, 2016. "TEMPUS FUGIT: A Hermeneutic Approach to the Internationalisation Process," Management International Review, Springer, vol. 56(6), pages 805-825, December.
    12. Poulis, Konstantinos & Poulis, Efthimios & Plakoyiannaki, Emmanuella, 2013. "The role of context in case study selection: An international business perspective," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 304-314.


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