CfP: Born-Global Firms in and from the Asia-Pacific Region: Strategic Challenges and Opportunities
Dr. Riad Shams (managing guest editor), Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, UK (Riad.Shams@northumbria.ac.uk)
Professor Demetris Vrontis, University of Nicosia, Cyprus (email@example.com)
Professor Debmalya Mukherjee, University of Akron, USA (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Professor Mario Kafouros, University of Manchester, UK (email@example.com)
Dr. Chrysostomos Apostolidis, Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, UK (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Background and aim
Born-global firms (BGFs) serve customers in cross-border markets from the launch of their operation and before serving customers in their local market. Knight and Cavusgil (2004) define BGFs “as business organizations that, from or near their founding, seek superior international business performance from the application of knowledge-based resources to the sale of outputs in multiple countries” (p. 124). Advances in information technology enable many small- and medium-sized enterprises to launch as BGFs. As smaller enterprises, BGFs experience many challenges, both locally and globally, to establish and manage their businesses. They also need to deal with more management challenges in comparison to other firms who do not launch as born-globals. For example, Hull et al. (2020, p. 1039) suggest that “born-globals, new ventures that are global from the start, simultaneously create new businesses and enter new (international) markets, whereas firms that do not choose to start as born-globals face only the challenges of creating new business”. However, we are yet to fully capture the complexities that BGFs encounter in exploring opportunities and managing their operations at the early and mature stages (Zucchella, 2021). This prompts the need for novel research insights to understand how BGFs could prolifically leverage their engagement with diverse local and international stakeholders, digitalization and automation (Makarius, Mukherjee, Fox, and Fox, 2020), ensure flexibility and scalability in their strategic management, address the issues related to management timing and speed in international arena, and to understand how different cross-disciplinary theories, international business theory (and strategic management theories) could underpin BGFs’ strategic operation (Monaghan et al., 2020) in disruptive global value chains.
Researchers (i.e. Lahiri et al., 2020) argue that future research should focus on explaining the resource-based context, institution-specific context and industry-specific context related to the firms’ operation, in order to underpin the internationalization of smaller business firms (such as BGFs). In terms of BGFs’ operation beyond their global geographic region (e.g. BGFs originated in Asia-Pacific and operating in North America, or vice-versa), in order to focus on a particular geographical region and expand global operations, researchers (i.e. Patel et al., 2018) argue that we have limited knowledge to reinforce BGF’s global strategic operation and their expansion capabilities. It is therefore critical to better understand BGFs’ unique organizational capabilities, innovation propensity, and strategic operations; as such an understanding can be instrumental in motivating new entrepreneurs. From a practical vantage point, such an understanding can help budding entrepreneurs further to operate globally from the very beginning of their entrepreneurial venturing, earn foreign remittance, and contribute to the socio-economic development of their region and in the foreign market where their BGFs operate (Cavusgil and Knight, 2015). Therefore, for the growth of new entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region, it is important to explore novel phenomena related to the challenges of launching BGFs in the Asia-Pacific region and the strategic expansion of those BGFs in other global regions, as well as how BGFs from other global regions could sustainably operate in the Asia-Pacific region to contribute to the socio-economic issues of this region.
Although BGF as a concept brings opportunities for research, it “further muddled the waters on what corporate globalization (or internationalization) actually implies” (Verbeke et al., 2018, p. 1198). Another equivocal concern for the BGF research stream is that its definitional and operational aspects would be misleading for researchers and entrepreneurs. It is because the terms BGF and international new venture (INV) are often used interchangeably, although the latter may have a much wider coverage of firms’ scope in terms of their cross-border operations (Coviello, 2015):
For example, a study of firms labeled as born global will examine firms that very close to birth, actively export to global markets. If the study captures multiple and global value chain activities very close to birth, the term “global start-up” from Oviatt and McDougall’s (1994) typology of INVs is more appropriate. (p. 21)
Therefore, researchers and entrepreneurs need to explore and explain even the trivial distinctions among different equivocal aspects of BGF and other closely relevant research and operational contexts in cross-border operations in order to understand “when it is (in)appropriate to use the term “born global” (Coviello, 2015, p. 17). It would be instrumental for BGFs, from their initial conceptualization stage to different operational stages, to understand such distinctions of their conceptual and operational boundaries, in order to launch, survive and prosper in the ever evolving volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) global value chain. Therefore, it is worth exploring and explaining novel phenomena related to BGF, INV and other closely related organizational forms for cross-border operations to underpin their conceptual foundation and operational strategies within their established and emerging functional scope(s).
We lack empirical insights related to small firms’ (e.g., BGFs’) operational sustainability (Denicolai et al., 2021); however, “research has focused on identifying the drivers and barriers (of value creation for sustainability) whilst little interest has been devoted to look at the potential interaction of these two growth paths” (Denicolai et al., 2021, p. 3). Consequently, researchers (i.e., Autio, 2017; Reuber et al., 2017; Etemad, 2018) call for novel research insights to explore value creation phenomena for “firms, like INVs and born globals, in the direction of (more general) entrepreneurial processes (to) make the issue of value creation more compelling” (Zucchella, 2021, p. 5), in order to ensure the sustainability of firms like BGFs. To underpin the growth of international entrepreneurial ventures (e.g., BGFs), Reuber et al. (2018) emphasize exploring the challenges related to the tensions associated with the firms’ cross-border operations as the directions for future research in the VUCA-attributed cross-border markets. Such tensions include the tensions between firms’ operational stability and flexibility, between control and autonomy, among differing time frames, among levels of analysis and between competition and collaboration across national borders.
In order to launch and expand operation in a particular global region or in a different socio-economic setting (e.g. launching and expanding from a developed economy to an emerging economy or vice-versa), business firms (e.g. BGFs) need to critically adapt to the context-specific business environment of their target market (Yiu et al., 2018) for establishing firm-specific advantages in their foreign market (Adarkwah and Malonaes, 2020). Therefore, for the successes of BGFs, it is imperative for entrepreneurs from the Asia-Pacific region to proactively learn and adapt to the global region-specific business contexts, while they attempt to launch and expand their BGFs from Asia-Pacific to another particular global region. Similarly, the entrepreneurs from other global regions need to learn and adapt to the diverse business contexts of their target market in the Asia-Pacific region for the success of their BGFs in this region. However, we need novel research insights to practically underpin BGFs’ learning and adaptation capabilities at a domestic level and in foreign markets. Research is also needed to be based on BGFs’ limited resources and capabilities to underpin their strategies related to risk management; cross-cultural issues; BGFs’ characteristics (e.g., size, age, structure and target industry); and other general contexts related to opportunity creation and exploitation, social and environmental responsibility, among others (Knight and Liesch, 2016).
A study focusing on 190 countries, conducted by the World Bank (2020), demonstrates that most countries from the Asia Pacific region rank at the bottom of the table that lists the ease of doing business in a particular country. The World Bank’s (2020) study also reveals that the “greater ease of doing business is associated with higher levels of entrepreneurship” (p. 7), i.e. it is associated with the extent of opportunities and support for entrepreneurial initiatives, such as BGFs. Thus, understanding the challenges of new entrepreneurs to doing business is instrumental to supporting their operational sustainability of new entrepreneurial ventures (e.g. BGFs), as well as to underpinning the entrepreneurs’ contribution to the socio-economic growth of a region. In this context, this special issue aims to lessen the knowledge gaps of the diverse contextual phenomena related to the strategic challenges and opportunities of BGFs, originating from and operating in the Asia-Pacific region, in order to underpin BGFs’ sustainability and its contribution to the Asia-Pacific societies and economies.
Manuscript type and thematic areas
We need to understand not only the BGFs’ definitional and conceptual aspects, but also the contextual agenda for credible empirical research, and to understand what and how to measure those contextual issues, and what would be the implications of such empirical insights (Verbeke et al., 2018). Therefore, the guest editors look for both conceptual and empirical studies to pursue the aim of the special issue. Few relevant thematic areas are listed here; however, it is not a comprehensive list:
Local and international challenges of launching BGFs in and from the Asia-Pacific region, and addressing such challenges to underpin BGFs’ contribution to the region;
Definitional, conceptual and functional similarities and dissimilarities between BGF, INV and other closely relevant organizational forms for cross-border operations, and the implications of the different extents of such similarities and dissimilarities to underpin BGFs’ operation in and from the Asia-Pacific region;
Implications of different strategic management theories (e.g., resource-based view, dynamic capabilities, strategic agility, and strategic ambidexterity) to underpin BGFs’ operation in and from the Asia-Pacific region;
Novel conceptual and empirical insights will be valuable to understand how BGFs from other global regions could learn from the traditional Asian business philosophy and principles in order to synchronize with the governance structure of this region, and vice-versa;
Implications of internationalization theory and/or the global value chains theory to underpin BGFs’ operations in the local, regional and global stages, and its impact on the Asia-Pacific economy;
“Although prior research has emphasised the importance of international strategic alliances, we have incomplete understanding of how and why some firms succeed in acquiring knowledge from foreign partners, but others fail” (Hsiao-Wen Ho et al., 2019, p. 439). Enterprise social network (ESN) has implications for effective knowledge sharing between a firm and its international stakeholders (Chatterjee et al., 2021). Therefore, analysing BGFs’ ESN and other knowledge acquisition contexts in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond will be instrumental for BGFs to acquire knowledge from their stakeholders across different global regions, which would contribute to the growth of BGFs in and from the Asia-Pacific region;
Challenges and opportunities for the mature bornglobals and their operation in and from the Asia-Pacific region;How BGFs from other geographical regions could enrich the AsiaPacific business ecosystem while they operate in this region. Exploring insights from this context will be useful to underpin BGFs’ contribution to the business ecosystem of this region;
Implications of information technology and platforms (e.g., big data analytics, AI, IoT, cryptocurrency, social media, and cybersecurity) to underpin BGFs’ strategic operation in and from the Asia-Pacific region;
“Future studies can investigate how broader dimensions (e.g., historical and cultural) of institutional distance (Kirkman et al., 2017; Sojli and Tham, 2017)…affect the performance of rapid export expansion” (Deng et al., 2018, p. 1028). Alongside studying the implications of institutional distance between BGFs and their cross-border stakeholders, investigating the BGFs’ challenges associated with the tensions between BGFs and their cross-border stakeholders would be instrumental for value creation in a compelling way, which could ensure the sustainability of Asia-Pacific region’s BGFs in other global regions, and vice-versa;
To understand stakeholders’ value anticipation, analysing the “cause and consequence of (BGFs’ cross-border) stakeholder relationships and interactions as a stakeholder causal scope” (Shams, 2016, p. 141) would be instrumental to address the issues related to BGFs’ institutional distance and tensions with their cross-border stakeholders, in order to co-create value in a compelling way, which would be expected and accepted by the BGFs’ stakeholders across national borders;
Strategic challenges and opportunities of BGFs in and from the Asia-Pacific region to pursue the triple bottom line (i.e. people, planet and profit);
Pandemic-specific disruptions in the global supply chain and other operational contexts of businesses, and how BGFs in and from the Asia-Pacific region could address such disruptions to underpin their operation in the post-pandemic era;
Implications of cross-disciplinary research (e.g., psychology and stakeholder relationship management or brand management) and cross-functional research (e.g., strategic management and overseas sales agent management) to underpin BGFs’ operations in and from the Asia-Pacific region;Insights from systematic literature reviews (e.g., meta-analyses) for BGFs to lessen the knowledge gaps in BGFs’ operation in and from the Asia-Pacific region;
The entrepreneurial initiatives of BGFs from one geographic region may or may not differ from those from another geographic region. Insights from comparative analyses of BGFs’ operations in different socio-economic settings, global regions, industries and markets, and their implications for exploring and exploiting BGFs’ strategic challenges and opportunities would be useful for BGFs to operate in and/or expand from the Asia-Pacific region.
Manuscript submission deadline: 30 April 2022;
First round review comments: 31 July 2022;
Revised manuscript submission deadline: 30 September 2022;
Completion of the subsequent round of reviews: 30 April 2023.
Manuscripts should be formatted as per the Journal’s guidelines (https://www.springer.com/journal/10490/submission-guidelines). Authors should select this special issue, while submitting manuscripts online (https://www.editorialmanager.com/apjm/default.aspx). Informal inquiries are valued, and can be directed to the guest editors.
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Editorial team biographies
Dr. Riad Shams is a lecturer at the Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, UK. He has published eleven books, contributed articles to top-tier international journals, and guest-edited for various reputable journals, including the Journal of International Management, Journal of Business Research, International Marketing Review, and Technological Forecasting and Social Change. He is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, and founder and co-editor of the Annals of Business Research and the Palgrave Studies in Cross-Disciplinary Business Research. His research interests are in the areas of strategic agility and international business, social entrepreneurship, stakeholder relationship management, cross-cultural management, and brand and reputation management in international market. He obtained a second place in the Cambridge-Kent-Czinkota Competition for Excellence in International Business Research-2019, and is entered into the Kent Business School’s Book of Honour. He received the Emerald Literati Award (Outstanding Paper) in 2019, the Emerald Literati Award (Outstanding Reviewer) in 2018, and the EuroMed Research Award in 2014.
Dr. Demetris Vrontis is the Vice Rector for Faculty and Research and a Professor of International Strategic Management at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, EU. He is the Founder and Editor in Chief of the EuroMed Journal of Business, an Associate Editor of the Journal of Business Research, and an Associate Editor of the International Marketing Review. He has wide editorial experience and has successfully edited over 60 guest editions in top tier journals. He is the President of the EuroMed Academy of Business, which serves as an important and influential regional academy in the area of business and management, and is the Managing Director of Gnosis: Mediterranean Institute for Management Science. He has published in about 300 refereed journal articles in the areas of strategic management, human resource management, sustainable development, international management and marketing, which have appeared in Human Resource Management (USA), Journal of World Business, British Journal of Management, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Journal of Business Research, Journal of International Management, International Marketing Review, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, International Business Review, Annals of Operations Research, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Human Resource Management Review and more. Professor Vrontis has published 45 books and 60 chapters in books, and has presented papers to over 80 conferences around the globe. He is a fellow member and certified Chartered Marketer and a Chartered Business Consultant. He is also currently serving as a consultant and is a member of the board of directors to several international companies.
Dr. Debmalya Mukherjee is Professor of Management at the College of Business Administration, University of Akron, USA. His research interests concern global innovation and technology, firm internationalization, inter-firm relationship issues, and emerging markets. Dr. Mukherjee’s works have appeared in Journal of Management Studies, Global Strategy Journal, Journal of Business Research, Journal of World Business, Journal of International Management, Industrial Marketing Management, R&D Management, and Multinational Business Review, among many others. Dr. Mukherjee is a senior editor in Asia Pacific Journal of Management and an associate editor in Journal of Business Research. Together with colleagues, Dr. Mukherjee is currently examining the processes by which artificial intelligence can be smoothly adopted and implemented in organizations.
Dr. Mario Kafouros serves as the Chair Professor of International Business and Innovation, Head of the Comparative and International Business Group, and is Associated Head of Research in Alliance Manchester Business School (UK). He is also Associate Editor of the journal International Business Review (IBR), appointed adviser to the Commonwealth, and was elected Secretary of the Academy of International Business (AIB UKI). Previously, he was member of the Faculty Executive Group (FEG), leader for the Research Excellence Framework (REF), and he also served as Research Director and Head of Department (IB) at the University of Leeds (UK). He has extensive industrial and academic experience in the fields of innovation and international business & strategy. His research has received strong recognition in the form of (1) Best Paper Awards (e.g., European International Business Academy 2013, Academy of International Business 2010, and the British Academy of Management 2008); (2) funding from research councils, government organizations and multinational companies; and (3) publications in leading international journals, such as Journal of Management, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Research Policy, Organization Studies, Human Relations, Technovation, the Journal of World Business, British Journal of Management and Journal of Business Research.
Dr. Chrysostomos Apostolidis is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Transnational Education at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, UK. His research focuses on international marketing, digital marketing and responsible marketing, exploring the development and implementation of (digital) marketing strategies to encourage responsible consumption and to improve the sustainability of organisations and businesses internationally. His research puts strong emphasis on innovation and the use of digital technologies to support sustainable value (co-)creation and exploitation of cross-border entrepreneurial opportunities, within the context of different industries/sectors. His work has been published in top-tier international journals and peer-reviewed books, and he has presented in many international conferences. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing and he has been a guest editor for special issues in reputable journals, including the journal of Technological Forecasting and Social Change.