The Role of Headquarters
New Horizons in International Business series
Edited by Ulf Andersson and Ulf Holm
Chapter 14: The Uppsala Model of Internationalization: A Comment
Peter J. Buckley The dialogue between Mats Forsgren and Jan Johanson is challenging and frank. It raises a number of important issues for international business theorising, some of which remain unresolved issues. I comment on these roughly in the order in which they arise in the dialogue. These are: ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● dynamics and equilibrium, Penrose’s approach (and formalization), firm-specific knowledge and Hymer’s theory, network structures, the nature of decision making in the firm and its proper conceptualization, the role of the market, the locus of learning versus the locus of decision making, and commitment. A rich list indeed! It is worth perhaps reiterating that two sequences of sequential internationalization can be identified. The first is by individual foreign market (perhaps from the psychically closest market to more culturally distant markets) and the second is deepening involvement in any given foreign market. DYNAMICS AND EQUILIBRIUM The Uppsala approach (Johanson and Wiedersheim-Paul 1975; Johanson and Vahlne 1977) examines the internationalization of the firm as a process. The key elements of the 1975 piece are the movement of the firm through ‘stages’ (export, independent foreign representatives, sales subsidiary, production/manufacturing subsidiary) whist the 1977 piece 305 306 Managing the contemporary multinational focuses on ‘market knowledge’ and ‘market commitment’ as key concepts. All these concepts have entered the common parlance of international business research. The internal processes of the firm are not however fully aligned with the state of the external market and competition is largely ignored. This perhaps accounts for the dissatisfaction expressed in the dialogue...
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