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A contingency-based approach to internationalization: a multi-case study analysis in Argentina

Research output: Working paper

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Abstract

Purpose: This paper takes a contingency-based approach to internationalization, exploring how global operations are configured (e.g., the path and pace of internationalization) and coordinated (e.g., supply chain coordination). It also considers how internationalization decisions, such as the offshoring of previously home-based operations, can impact performance. Design/methodology/approach: Multi-case study research involving 15 Argentine subsidiaries of Italian-owned companies, with data collected through face-to-face semi-structured interviews in Argentina with senior representatives from each company. Findings: Global operations can be successfully configured through both incremental and nonincremental paths, while the pace of internationalization can also vary. A number of coordination mechanisms are evident but centralization modes appear particularly effective for integrating the role of a subsidiary’s operations with the parent company. The need to revise or adapt an organization’s internationalization strategy over time is also identified, and an initial conceptual model developed based on both the Operations & Supply Chain Management and International Business literature is later revised using case study evidence. Research limitations/implications: Further research is required to assess whether the results are valid for other emerging economies. Practical implications: A variety of internationalization practices that lead to good performance are observed in relation to different needs and specific contextual factors - such as competitor behavior, product features and production cost structure. Originality/value: The global Operations & Supply Chain Management literature is largely acontextual, static in nature and considers either strategic or tactical internationalization decisions only. In contrast, this research: adopts a contingency-based approach to the study of internationalization decisions, examines changes over time, and considers both strategic and tactical decisions.