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Klaus E. Meyer and Ornjira Thaijongrak

The rapid emergence of multinational enterprises (MNEs) from emerging economies calls for a re-assessment of established theories of the MNE. We assess the usefulness of the internationalization process model (IPM), also known as the Uppsala model, to explain the recent strategies of emerging economy MNEs. We argue that popular stages models derived from the IPM are not helpful, but the underlying process of experiential learning driving steps of increased commitment is an important element in explaining the evolution of these MNEs over time. Focusing on the role of acquisitions within internationalization processes, we illustrate our arguments with six case studies of Thai MNEs. On this basis, we discuss how the IPM can inform future research on emerging economy MNEs. Specifically, the IPM suggests focusing on the internal and external factors that may induce firms to accelerate their cycle of international learning and commitment, in particular the roles of networks, acquisitions, human resources, big step commitments, the home country institutional environment, and possible managerial biases.