International Collaboration and European Contributions to International Business Research.

Date01 Diciembre 2020
AuthorAissaoui, Rachida

1 Introduction

Several recent bibliometric studies have shown that international business (IB) research has become geographically diversified, with increased mobility of researchers across borders. Simultaneously, while still a major producer of research, North American dominance in IB journal publications has evidenced a relative decline, partly a reflection of increased output by authors in Europe (Ai'ssaoui and Geringer 2018; Chan et al. 2006; Ellis and Zhan 2011; Geringer and von Glinow 1999; Kothari and Lahiri 2012; Lahiri and Kumar 2012; Ryazanova et al. 2017; Trevino et al. 2010; Xu et al. 2014). While most studies report on the Americanization of IB research (Mangematin and Baden Fuller 2008; Usdiken 2014), this recent redistribution of relative geographic dominance between American and European institutions begs the question of whether Europeanization of IB research is a reflection of the American model of "publish or perish" (Miller et al. 2011; Wilson 1942) or whether, instead, we are observing a fundamental transformation of the field where dynamic new clusters of IB research activity are emerging, often in conjunction with cross-border and inter-regional collaborations.

A key finding of prior literature is that acceptance of the "publish or perish" model for achieving academic career success has not been equal across nations (Usdiken 2004; Viiu et al. 2016). Low penetration or adaptation of this performance model in some nations or regions has been attributed to different causes, including attaching importance to non-English language publications (e.g., national or regional), different publication outputs being more prestigious (e.g., books rather than journals), or emphasis on different epistemologies than the positivist approach common to North American research (Eden and Rynes 2003; Hicks 2012; Lopez-Navarro et al. 2015). Another strand of the literature identifies nations' and institutions' resource constraints as a central motivation to adopt this model. Such constraints range from economic factors, such as the need to access costly and unique databases, to networking and conference participation, editorial board diversity, and English language skills (Chinchilla-Rodriguez et al. 2018; Harzing and Metz 2012, 2013; Horn 2017; Ribeiro et al. 2018).

Yet another strand of the literature suggests that increased international collaboration and mobility is contributing to proliferation of the "publish or perish" model (Jonkers and Cruz-Castro 2013; Lages et al. 2015). This finding is largely echoed in research assessing the evolution of published IB research output, which points to a clear Americanization of academic practices (de Rond and Miller 2010; Tsui 2007). For instance, Xu et al. (2014) and Ai'ssaoui and Geringer (2018) find that development of IB research in the Asia-Pacific region was largely supported by extensive collaboration between Asia-Pacific and North American academic institutions. Specifically, Aissaoui and Geringer (2018) note how hiring research stars from the U.S.--and the U.K.--represented a key strategy among Asia-Pacific universities as they sought to jumpstart their position as leading global actors in IB research.

Together, these studies agree that increased collaboration (Jonkers and Cruz-Castro 2013; Kirkman and Law 2005) and increased internationalization (Leonidou et al. 2010; Ryazanova et al. 2017) have contributed to the emergence of both European and Asian academic institutions as central actors in the global arena for publication of scholarly research (Ellis and Zhan 2011; Trevino et al. 2010). However, these studies also lament a continued under-representation of research from Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East (Kirkman and Law 2005; Lages et al. 2015). Importantly, the asserted unequal representation that favors North American research has been widely criticized for social phenomena in general, and international and intercultural phenomena specifically, as being highly contextual and thus requiring search for both etic and emic explanations (Leung 2009, 2012).

Our study explores the evolution of IB research by European academic institutions. Our focus on Europe is motivated by the relative dearth of bibliometric studies focused on the region, a rather surprising situation given the central role played by European researchers and academic institutions in the evolution of IB research. For instance, European research tends to favor interpretivist approaches (Baruch 2001; Lopez-Navarro et al. 2015) whose decided advantage is their insistence on the importance of context, and thus their ability to shed light on contextual and institutional factors in cross-national and cross-cultural variations (Kostova 1997, 1999; Peng 2002).

Furthermore, we cover the period from 1971 to 2015, which allows us to trace the evolution of the European region and its academic institutions since the initial years of IB journals and to contrast European trends with those of other regions. Our database includes 5853 authors from 1542 affiliated institutions involved in producing 5508 qualifying publications. Findings from this study contribute to both our understanding of resource dependencies in academic research and the role of international collaboration on research performance, notably by identifying that different types of international collaboration may be at play in supporting research productivity. Specifically, this study's contributions include: (1) identifying a unique internationalization process of IB research that consists of three distinct stages driven by international collaboration, (2) highlighting the role of international collaborations in overcoming publication barriers at the regional and country level, and (3) highlighting the role of both scale and scope of international collaborations in achieving a top-ranked position. The next section discusses the evolution of IB research, including globalization of "publish or perish" practices and international research collaboration. The discussion then turns to this study's research methodology, followed by presentation and discussion of results. The final section presents our study's conclusions and potential limitations.

2 Americanization of Research Practices in IB: Challenges and Opportunities for European Research

2.1 Globalization of "Publish or Perish" Practices

Bibliometric studies have widely adopted peer-reviewed articles in leading journals as their favored unit of analysis to assess research performance (Adler and Harzing 2009; Usdiken 2014), since they are argued to "introduce a measure of objectivity into the evaluation of scientific literature" (Zupic and Cater 2015). Results from these analyses help assess the evolution of a field, both quantitatively and qualitatively, and assist in identifying constraints to a field's development and key institutional sources for research performance (Tuselmann et al. 2016). Importantly, bibliometric analyses are instrumental in recruitment, selection, and resource allocation decisions, among others (Aithal 2016; Hall 2001). In the U.S., successful publishing in academic journals is a common consideration in tenure and promotion decisions (Bedeian et al. 2010; Click et al. 2007) and it influences both financial rewards (Bird 2006) and resource allocation (Hall 2001). The practice commonly known as "publish or perish" to measure academic success (Miller et al. 2011) has been widely adopted in other regions. Lahiri and Kumar (2012), for instance, show how the "publish or perish" practice has been institutionalized in Europe and Asia.

Adoption of a "publish or perish" approach, as has occurred in most of Europe (Hicks 2012), is not without challenges or resistance. An excellent review of major roadblocks against institutionalization of this model is provided in a symposium series by the Journal of Management Inquiry, led by Behliil Usdiken (2004). Although conducted nearly two decades ago, the symposium's authors offer an in-depth historical overview of ways in which European nations implemented this practice, often adapting it to fit their own needs and definitions of quality research: Engwall (2004) focuses on Scandinavian nations, Kieser (2004) on Germany, Tiratsoo (2004) on Britain (see also Hewitt-Dundas 2012), and Kipping et al. (2004) on Mediterranean Europe. These studies trace the Americanization of this academic standard first to post-World War II relationships between Europe and the U.S., more pointedly to the Marshall Plan in a resource-constrained region (Hewitt-Dundas 2012), and later to policies driven by the European Commission (Hewitt-Dundas 2012; Viiuetal. 2016).

Importantly, these studies reveal wide heterogeneity in practice adoption, which Kipping et al. (2004), Mangematin and Baden-Fuller (2008), and Hicks (2012) equate to what Zilber (2006) and Sahlin and Weldin (2008) would call an institutional translation process, i.e., a process of adaptation and modification of a practice to align it with the context in which it is implemented. For instance, Hicks (2012) explains that journal lists commonly used to assess research productivity are often inadequate for universal application, which led Norway to adopt "publish or perish" but only after various adaptations. Also building on the institutional diffusion literature, Kipping et al. (2004) chronicle how Spanish academia developed a hybrid performance system. A central insight from this research is its illustration that practices often cannot achieve global adoption without some form of modification or translation (Minkov and Hofstede 2011), or 'glocalization' (Robertson 1997).

Resistance to the "publish or perish" practice for European markets is further explained by its tendency to discount non-English language publications (Eden and Rynes 2003; Hicks 2012). In addition, this performance standard can disadvantage European authors whose prestige may derive from their ability to write...

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