Trends in international strategic management research from 2000 to 2013: text mining and bibliometric analyses.

VerfasserWhite, George O., III
PostenRESEARCH PAPER - Report - Statistical data

Abstract This study provides an overview of the international strategic management literature from 2000 through 2013. By drawing from a sample of 736 articles, we employ bibliometric and text mining analyses in identifying 10 distinct subfields of international strategic management research. Our study serves as a resource for future research by shedding light on how trends in international strategic management research have evolved over time. The results of our analysis reveal a substantial increase in the volume of international strategic management articles published in high quality journals over this period of time. Specifically, our results demonstrate that certain subfields of international strategic management research, such as business strategy formulation, internal coordination, decisionmaking, corporate strategy implementation, international diversification, and national culture, are increasing in scholarly interest. However, other subfields of international strategic management research, such as political risk, corporate strategy formulation, business strategy implementation, and strategic alliances, have either stabilized or recently declined in scholarly interest. We also identify and report the most prominent theories employed within each subfield. We find that institutional theory, the resource-based view, organizational learning theory, social network theory, and the knowledge-based view have been the most frequently employed theories in the international strategic management literature.

Keywords International strategic management * Research trends * Bibliometric analysis * Text mining

1 Introduction

Located at the intersection of international business and strategic management, international strategic management (ISM) research is a relatively new and growing field of research inquiry (Lu 2003; Peng and Zhou 2006; Werner 2002) that addresses how various environmental and organizational factors impact a multinational enterprise's (MNE's) ability to outperform its competitors over time (Bruton et al. 2004). (1) This includes an MNE's ability to formulate and "implement!] a plan of action for pursuing [its] mission and attaining these objectives" in the global business environment (Luthans and Doh 2009, p. 252). From its early beginnings in the 1980s (Ricks et al. 1990), ISM research has steadily gained momentum and exponentially grown as a complex field of inquiry over the course of the 1990s (Lu 2003) and 2000s (Tallman and Pedersen 2011). However, this momentum and exponential growth can make it difficult for scholars to accurately assess the current status of ISM research. This notion is of particular importance, since ISM is a multidisciplinary field enriched by disciplines as diverse as economics, finance, law, organizational studies, marketing, sociology, political science, and psychology. Thus, there is a need to identify and better understand the evolving boundaries of ISM research, as well as to quantify trends within its subfields. These observations lead us to examine the recent trends in ISM research. Specifically, we ask the following research questions: (1) what are the most studied subfields of ISM research? and (2) what are the most prevalent theories employed within each subfield of ISM research?

Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to investigate the evolution of recent trends in ISM research from 2000 through 2013 by using bibliometric and text mining analyses. Instead of providing a detailed review, we chose to report emerging trends within this field of inquiry, as well as within its subfields, for two reasons. First, literature reviews are typically conducted on a narrow topic within an academic discipline, such as the internationalization of small firms (Coviello and McAuley 1999) or the antecedents of international strategic alliance performance (Christoffersen 2013). By contrast, bibliometric analysis is typically performed to gain insights into the intellectual structure of a broad academic discipline (Nerur et al. 2008; Schildt et al. 2006). Second, literature reviews are, by nature, subjective, since researchers have discretion over what to include and exclude from a topic. On the other hand, analyzing trends via bibliometric and text mining analyses can avoid some of the potential pitfalls associated with subjective biases inherent in literature reviews (Nerur et al. 2008; Raghuram et al. 2010).

While there have been a few key studies that have analyzed different forms of trends in ISM research, these studies are relatively dated and have analyzed samples from older time periods. For example, Lu (2003) provided a summary on how ISM research evolved over time in the 1990s. Peng and Zhou (2006) identified the most cited articles and scholars in the ISM (i.e., global strategy) literature. However, since the publication of these important articles, ISM research, due to its dynamic nature, has steadily evolved (Tallman and Pedersen 2011). For example, (Tallman and Pederson 2011, p. 2) have noted that:

... much of business and the environment of business have become global in the last decade.... As a part of this trend, the international business environment has changed in dramatic fashion. Today, more than half of all the growth in the global economy is in emerging markets ... [and] the old 'industrial triad' shrinks as a percentage of the world [GDP].... As a result of these fundamental reversals in roles, the sense that ... firms around the globe aim to imitate the Anglo-Saxon system is fading rapidly, and an understanding of the differences among locations has become critical to studying business strategy. The world is becoming more accessible, but also more diverse. Context matters more than ever, and [ISM] is about understanding, incorporating, and exploiting context and contextual differences in managing organizations strategically. This dramatic change in the global economy has led to a considerable shift in issues being investigated in ISM research, such as an emerging emphasis on how innovation systems influence the internationalization of firms; how pressures relating to differentiated market demands and the integration of multicultural workforces lead to the development of MNE intra-firm and MNE inter-firm strategic practices; the growing influence of communication and information technology on MNE management practices and control systems; and "[cooperation among internationally networked firms and competition between internationally integrated networks of firms" (Zettinig and Vincze 2011, p. 341). Additionally, past studies have excluded certain key international business or management journals from their analyses. For example, both Lu (2003) and Peng and Zhou (2006) did not include the Journal of Management Studies, the Journal of International Management, and International Business Review, although these journals consistently publish ISM research (Trevino et al. 2010; Werner 2002). Thus, we attempt to fill this gap in the literature by analyzing published research over the years 2000 through 2013 in twelve well regarded international business and management journals that commonly publish ISM research (see generally in Sect. 2).

Through the application of text mining and bibliometric analyses, our study offers a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of trends in ISM research. In doing so, we specifically provide at least four contributions to the literature. First, our text mining and bibliometric trends analysis quantifies an increase in the number of ISM articles published in high quality journals over the past decade and demonstrates the rapid growth in this field of inquiry. Second, building on subfield classifications initially established by Peng and Zhou (2006), our analysis reveals that there are 10 distinct subfields of ISM research: business strategy formulation, business strategy implementation, corporate strategy formulation, corporate strategy implementation, political risk, internal coordination, decision-making, international diversification, national culture, and strategic alliances.

Third, our study provides an in-depth analysis of trends in these subfields over the period of 2000 through 2013. Our analysis shows that research activity in certain subfields of ISM research have increased while others have declined in research interest. For example, the subfield that has steadily grown over time in research interest is international diversification. Also, the subfields of political risk and business strategy formulation experienced increased research interest in 2009 and 2010, but then declined after 2010. Research in certain subfields of ISM, such as national culture, business strategy implementation, and strategic alliances have remained relatively constant. On the other hand, research in the subfields of internal coordination, decision-making, and corporate strategy implementation were relatively inconsistent, having repetitive years of increased growth followed by declines in published research on a regular basis.

Fourth, we identify and analyze trends regarding the primary theories employed in the subfields of ISM literature from 2000 through 2013. Our research finds that institutional theory (99 articles), the resource-based view (69 articles), organizational learning theory (69 articles), social network theory (68 articles), and the knowledge-based view (66 articles) are the five most predominant theories employed in ISM research. We also illustrate and discuss the top five theories employed in each subfield of ISM research. By making these observations, this study attempts to offer insight regarding the evolution of ISM research and provide guidance concerning opportunities for future research.

Our study is organized as follows. In the next section we discuss our research methodology. We then empirically assess the journals and authors most frequently publishing ISM research, primary theories employed, and trends...

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