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Edited by Mika Gabrielsson and V. H. Manek Kirpalani
Chapter 4: Born Global and Born-Again Global Firms: A Comparison of Internationalization Patterns
Michael Sheppard and Rod McNaughton INTRODUCTION This chapter reports the results of research that identifies and compares two patterns of internationalization that may be found among smaller firms: born global firms (which internationalize rapidly soon after their founding), and born-again global firms (which exist as domestic firms for a long time before rapidly internationalizing). Both patterns share the characteristic of rapid and intensive internationalization, but the first type of firm enters foreign markets as a new venture, while the latter does so much later in its life cycle. Recent literature on patterns of internationalization focuses on the phenomenon of ‘born global’ firms, also called ‘international new ventures’ (Oviatt and McDougall 1994) and ‘rapid internationalizers’, and contrasts this internationalization pathway with the traditional model of incremental (or staged) internationalization. However, researchers such as Bell et al. (2003) point out that there are multiple pathways and variants of the archetypal born global and incremental internationalizing firm. As a specific example, Bell et al. (2001) introduced the notion of ‘born-again global’ firms to the literature. Such firms focus on their domestic market for many years before beginning rapid and dedicated internationalization. As yet, there are few empirical descriptions of born-again global firms, and few investigations of how they may differ from their more studied born global counterparts. Bell et al. reported cases that illustrate potential motives for shifting from a focus on the domestic market to rapid internationalization. However, they did not provide guidance on how to identify born-again global firms in terms...