Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Mika Gabrielsson and V. H. Manek Kirpalani
Chapter 2: Born Global or Simply Rapidly Internationalizing? Review, Critique, and Future Prospects
Leonidas C. Leonidou and Saeed Samiee INTRODUCTION The technological, social, and corporate transitions predicated some three decades ago by Levitt (1983) in his influential and controversial Harvard Business Review article, ‘The globalization of markets’, appear to have served as instrumental levers in setting the tone, manner, and direction for patterns of the internationalization of firms. It is noteworthy that a number of key international institutional transformations that are now a reality were not even planned when Levitt’s publication appeared in print.1 Collectively, these changes serve to further solidify the basic principles he advocated. A consequence of the relatively rapid changes in the business environment along technological (for example, transportation, communications), competitive (for example, market entry by new competitors, including electronic commerce), and regulatory and trade (for example, lower tariffs, ease of conducting cross-border business) dimensions has been the intensification of international business activities, particularly exporting, by an increasing number of firms. In the late 1980s, business publications were perhaps the first to report on the shifting tides and emergence of ventures that were essentially international from the start. Attention was initially drawn to the phenomenon when the first articles referring to successful cases of early and rapidly internationalizing firms appeared in the popular business press (Gupta 1989; Mamis 1989). Although it is less clear exactly when the terms ‘born international’ or ‘born global’ were coined, observers attribute them to academic scholars who investigated the topic in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The earliest academic use of the term ‘born...
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