Progress, maturity or exhaustion? Sources and modes of theorizing on the international strategy - performance relationship (1990-2011).

Xavier Martin, K.F. van den Oever

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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We examine patterns and changes in the use of various theoretical perspectives, and in the approach to testing individual or combinations of theories, within the field of international strategy which constitutes one of the major areas of international business research. We conduct a systematic bibliometric analysis of 22 years’ worth of empirical papers. We generate tabular evidence and introduce the use of network graphing methodology to report and analyze the co-occurrence of theories. We find a changing distribution of theoretical perspectives, indicative of a re-centering of the field around strategic and organizational perspectives. This is accompanied by use of more complex approaches to testing contingencies of the sort likely to result from these theories combinations, especially across firm, interfirm and institutional levels of analysis. We thus generate and discuss critically a quantitative and graphical overview of the progress of international strategy research. This creates unique and comprehensive insights into the development of theory and empirics in international business. We draw lessons for academics and report practical recommendations for the conduct of research. Overall, our study sheds new light on the disciplinary nature of international business research and its interplay with related fields and disciplines. It explicates patterns of theory accretion alongside patterns of theory testing and refinement. It provides a comprehensive map of the field of international business strategy as it evolved since 1990 and illuminates its future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in International Management
Subtitle of host publication Philosophy of Science and Meta-Knowledge in International Business and Management
EditorsT.M. Devinney, T. Pedersen, L. Tihanyi
Place of PublicationBingley
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78190-713-9
ISBN (Print)9781781907122
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameAdvances in International Management


  • International strategy
  • Performance
  • Bibliometric analysis
  • Network analysis
  • Theory development
  • Research methodology


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