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Center for International Business Studies on Emerging Markets (CIBEM)

We specialize in research on international marketing, international business strategies and international entrepreneurship. The global focus is on emerging markets, particularly in the Baltic Sea area, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Our research

The Center for International Business Studies on Emerging Markets (CIBEM) at the School of Business and Economics is a competence center specializing in research on international marketing, international business strategies and international entrepreneurship. The global focus is on emerging markets, particularly in the Baltic Sea area and Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS). The overriding principle of the methodology is to merge understanding and deep insights through qualitative case studies with generalizing the knowledge through quantitative methods.

The research is multi-disciplinary, where the firm is integrated with the meso and macro levels of society. It is organized in a number of projects and two research programs:

  • International marketing and entrepreneurship in emerging markets
  • International business strategy in Big Emerging Markets.

The research is network oriented by taking place in cooperation with other universities in Sweden and abroad. This collaboration is project-based except for the larger exchange with Zhejiang University, which is organized as a joint research center by the name of the China Sweden Management Research Center (CSMRC), focusing on the internationalization of Swedish and Chinese firms.

Research programmes

International Marketing and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets

The focus is on how SMEs internationalize in the third wave of internationalization to and from emerging markets, mainly how they adjust the business to local market conditions in relation to how it is integrated with other markets. A major aspect concerns how the firm's internationalization process is influenced by the business cycle of the new integrated world market.

SMEs have been studied in the boom period until 2009, during the Great global recession and in the on-going recovery. E.g. a critical question for the post-crisis world is how the newly won international status of exporting SMEs is influenced by the global recession. Knowledge has been developed on how and why the internationalization process of the SMEs took place both to emerging country markets (Jansson & Sandberg, 2008; Jansson & Hilmersson, 2010; Timlon & Hilmersson, 2009) and from these immature markets during the boom (Hilmersson, Jansson, Sandberg & Timlon, 2009; Jansson & Hilmersson, 2009; Jansson & Söderman, 2007; Sandberg, 2009).

Projects within International Marketing and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets:

Impact of the Global Recession on the Internationalization Processes of SMEs

Project leader: Mikael Hilmersson
Other researchers: Susanne Sandberg and Niklas Åkerman

This project addresses the impact by the business cycle on the internationalization of Swedish SMEs. The project has two parts: (i) follow up of the 203 firms participating in ISME, in order to study to what extent resources, business relationships, and network positions prior to the recession can explain the severity of the recession's and the ensuing recovery's impact on the SMEs' entry nodes and processes in emerging country markets, and (ii) an extension of the scope, performing a study of a larger amount of Swedish exporting SMEs regarding how the recession and the recovery affect their internationalization process extension and position, as well as their strategic behavior.

The purpose is to describe and explain how SMEs will fare in this new and very tough global competitive situation, where firms from the three waves have come together to compete with each other in a much more integrated world market. The main theoretical contribution of the project is to examine the extent to which a firms resource base and network position prior to the great global recession can explain the firms ability to sustain or even improve market positions in times of such turbulence.

Internationalization of Chinese firms

Project leader: Susanne Sandberg

This project concerns the internationalization of SMEs from the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) (Jansson&Söderman, 2011; Sandberg, 2009). Similar to the other projects, research was done about how these firms started to go abroadduring the boom until 2009. An abductive case study methodology was used to develop theory on how the SMEs took off from the home market.

In accordance with project 1 and 2 research it will be studied how the internationalization processes of a larger number of SMEs have been influenced by the recession and the on-going recovery. This research will take place in cooperation with the Zhejiang university.

Internationalization Processes of Swedish SMEs to the Baltic Sea region and China

Director: Professor Hans Jansson

The focus is on how SMEs internationalize in the third wave of internationalization to and from emerging markets, mainly how they adjust the business to local market conditions in relation to how it is integrated with other markets. A major aspect concerns how the firm's internationalization process is influenced by the business cycle of the new integrated world market.

SMEs have been studied in the boom period until 2009, during the Great global recession and in the on-going recovery. E.g. a critical question for the post-crisis world is how the newly won international status of exporting SMEs is influenced by the global recession. Knowledge has been developed on how and why the internationalization process of the SMEs took place both to emerging country markets (Jansson & Sandberg, 2008; Jansson & Hilmersson, 2010; Timlon & Hilmersson, 2009) and from these immature markets during the boom (Hilmersson, Jansson, Sandberg &Timlon, 2009; Jansson & Hilmersson, 2009; Jansson & Söderman, 2007; Sandberg, 2009).

Learning in Networks to Develop the Export Capacity of the Internationalized SME

Project leader: Mikael Lundgren
Other researchers: Niklas Åkerman

The industrial and scientific research problems addressed relate to how SMEs strategically learn to do business during the different stages of the internationalization process and during the different phases of the business cycle. The growth of emerging markets offered a golden opportunity for Swedish SMEs to expand eastwards. At the same time, SMEs from emerging markets, such as China, are restructuring and making strategic changes in order to cope with a weakening international demand and increasing domestic and foreign competition. The long and deep recession make many firms to rethink their global strategy for these very different markets. They need to adapt by learning a broad range of new skills and practices.

An action research oriented case study methodology is used to study various organizational learning situations throughout this process. The project focuses on how new knowledge is co-produced by joint learning between the academia and the firms on one hand and between firms on the other. Synergies that favour both parties are created due to firms learning from researchers, and researchers learning from firms. A main issue is how SMEs develop various kinds of knowledge in local markets in relation to its general internationalization knowledge.

The methodology used to study inter-organizational learning is defined as the Mutual Experience Exchange Learning Methodology (MEE) based on the Appreciative Inquiry approach. The project builds on an existing theory mainly gained in the research programme presented above and the aim of the project is both to develop knowledge regarding strategic learning in SMEs and to develop new interactive action research methodologies to study these and other issues.

Managing Market Entry and Business Relationships in Emerging African Markets

Project leader: Richard Owusu

Africa is increasingly being seen as the next big opportunity for international companies. Thus, the nature of the business environment and strategies for success in emerging African markets are of increased interest. Emerging African markets are defined as those having rapid economic growth and undertaking market and institutional reforms attracting foreign companies. This research project focuses on the opportunities and turbulence in the business environment of emerging African markets. It also looks at the role of relationship-building and networking with business and non-business actors in the strategies of foreign companies.

It is specified in three major research questions: 1) What are the dynamics of market opportunities and turbulence in emerging African markets and how are foreign firms managing them? 2) What establishment modes are foreign firms using to do business in emerging African markets? 3) How are foreign firms managing relationships with market and non-market actors as well as corporate social responsibility (CSR) in emerging African markets?

Simultaneous opportunities and turbulence are integral aspects of all emerging markets, and emerging African markets are likely to differ in these aspects compared to established markets. Burgess and Steenkamp (2006) argued that the different dynamics of opportunities and turbulence in emerging markets and the way they impact market entry and development need to be studied to understand if the extant theories apply. Entering new markets involves establishing relationships in new networks (Johanson and Vahlne, 2009). CSR is an important strategy for relating with non-market actors in emerging markets and is also an emerging field of research in marketing. Thus, the three research questions are well positioned in contemporary theory and practice.

The research programme will use a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods to deepen understanding of this emerging area of researchandbusiness practice.

New directions in European and Chinese SME International Entrepreneurship

Project leaders: Professor Hans Jansson and Professor Zhongming Wang, Zhejiang University
Other researchers: Mikael Lundgren

The period before the great global recession, between mid-1990's and 2007, was signified by a rapidly growing world economy, mainly caused by the emergence of new market economies.

For the first time in history different national markets became integrated into one big global market. A major feature of this exceptional growth period was the rise of large numbers of SMEs internationalizing and up-grading their immature markets, as well as SMEs from these emerging markets internationalizing to mature western markets. The emergence of the SME as a more common type of international firm is part of the third wave of internationalization of firms. Due to the crisis period since 2007 SMEs internationalization patterns are changing.

Organizational Learning in Entrepreneurial Networks in Times of Economic Hardship

This research project concentrates on the organizational learning aspects of the internationalization of Chinese SMEs under organizational change: how to stay competitive and learn to improve competitiveness in global markets by restructuring the firms or developing inter-organizational networks. The more current short-term problem of that the markets abroad have temporarily disappeared is also taken up in this project. It goes deep into how SMEs change their internationalization strategy in turbulent times.

The industrial and scientific research problems addressed relate to how SMEs strategically learn to do international marketing and conduct organizational change during the different phases of the internationalization process. An action research oriented case study methodology is used to study various organizational learning situations throughout this process, e.g., how firms initially learn to go abroad by exporting, collaborating, joint venturing, and alliancing, how they learn to identify and evaluate key partners and intermediaries, or how they learn to replace an agent with another intermediary or a subsidiary later in the internationalization. The project focuses on how new knowledge is co-produced by joint learning between the academia and the firms on one hand and between firms on the other. Synergies that favour both parties are created due to firms learning from researchers, and vice versa. A main issue is how SMEs develop various kind of knowledge in local markets in relation to its general internationalization knowledge.

The methodology used to study inter-organizational learning during the critical third stage is defined as the Mutual Experience Exchange Learning Methodology (MEE).

The sample of research in China is the Silk-Tie Cluster and similar clusters in the Yangze River delta. Empirical data collection will be conducted together with in-depth case analysis among those firms. The specific methodology will be implemented in this research process.

Political strategies: Managing Institutional Pressure and Business-Political Relationships in the Internationalization Process

Project leader: Firouze Pourmand

This project focuses on how entrepreneurially oriented firms within the clean technology industry manage business-political relationships in their internationalization process. Many governments are aggressively implementing clean energy policies, setting emissions targets and providing incentives for cleantech investing. The institutional environment and the role of institutional actors like governments, legislators, multi-lateral institutions like the European Union, non-governmental organizations (NGO's) and pressure groups are the most important factors in the creation of an enabling environmental and expansion of emerging industry.

More specifically, the aim is to study how firms manage their relationships with political actors locally, nationally and internationally in order to develop and market their competences within the emerging clean technology industry. The theoretical foundation of the project lies within political entrepreneurship, institutional theory and relationship and network theories.

Strategic orientations of international new ventures on emerging market: the Latin America context

Project leader: Rosalina Torres Ortega

Recent studies have revealed the business strategies employed by INV influenced them to succeed in the international markets and improved their performance (Hagen & Zucchella, 2014; Weerawardena et al., 2015). As pointed out by Hagen et al. (2012) "strategic orientations influence organizational behaviour which in turn might become manifest in strategies leading to competitive advantage that ultimately influences performance" (p. 371). Studies exploring different types of strategic orientations include market orientation (MO) and international entrepreneurial orientation (IEO). However, there is still a paucity of empirical research on the relationship of MO and IEO of early internationalization firms. Likewise, some studies have identified that these strategies have been positively related to firm performance in studies focused on different types of firms, but not INV.

INV from Latin American emerging economies are underexplored on the current International Entrepreneurship (IE) literature. According to Jones et al. (2011) most of the IE theories are supported on empirical studies on advanced economies.

Understanding the IEO and MO of INV is imperative for emerging economies to compete globally. Empirical findings of INV from emerging countries are still lacking. Thus the objective of this study is to explore and analyze the effect of these orientations on the performance of the firms from Latin America context. This study will adopt a mixed method design procedure to reap the benefits of both qualitative and quantitative analyses (Bryman, 2006).

International Business Strategy in Big Emerging Markets

Big emerging markets are of high strategic importance to international firms today, in particular the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). International business strategy is studied in this programme, especially how it is adapted to the particular strategic environment characterizing these markets: being turbulent, relationship-oriented, embedded, holistic, social, reforming and institution-building.

The research is founded on the Institutional Network approach (INA), where strategy focuses on understanding the logic of the institutional setting in emerging markets together with the institutional setting internal to the firm. The purpose is thus to integrate the firm or the micro level with the meso and macro levels in society. The INA also emphasizes the importance of effective networking in local markets.

Two projects focus on the corporate strategy of the MNC in relation to its environment. One project links the macro and micro spheres by studying how the new Chinese growth model impacts firm strategies in Sweden and China. Another project focuses on the meso level by studying regional innovation network strategy in Third-tier Cities.

Projects within International Business Strategy in Big Emerging Markets:

Mixture of Yin Yang management and Western Strategic Management in China

Project leader: Professor Hans Jansson
Other researchers: Firouze Pourmand and Susanne Sandberg, Linnaeus University; Professor Sten Söderman, School of Business, Stockholm University, and Professor Martin Johanson, Mid Sweden University; Professor Zhongming Wang, Global Entrepreneurship Center, Zhejiang University; Associate Professor Sikander Khan, Fudan University.

Despite the tremendous success of the BRICS, knowledge about these economies still lags behind their growing relevance in the world economy, especially on the implications for the international management of firms. A major consequence is that most strategic management systems today are very complex, since they are international mixtures of original systems from various countries, and about which very little is known. The purpose is to both contribute to research on Chinese and international management.

First a comparative strategic management theory for studying such mixtures at MNCs is established based on institutional theory, into which Chinese management is integrated. Second the instrument for researching such mixed management systems is developed through case studies in China based on an abductive approach.In an explorative study of 21 mostly Swedish firms operating in Shanghai a preliminary theoretical framework and research instrument were developed. They are now specified further and tried out ina pilot case study of first Western firms and then of Chinese firms. Third, the theoretical framework and the findings of the pilot study are generalized through a survey of a larger sample of firms. To make the study truly comparative, both Western and Chinese international firms will be studied. Mixed methods are used by first applying a case study research strategy and then test hypotheses derived from the case study through a survey research strategy. Based on the implications on strategic management from Taoist traditions and Confucian thought, Chinese strategic managementis defined as Yin Yang management. Relevant practical implications include different functions and departments of international firms in China and other BRICS.

Regional Innovation Network Strategy in Third Tier Cities: Science Parks in the Baltic Sea Region and China

Project Leader: Fil. lic. Lars Malmborg

There are a number of studies on regional innovation strategies but few on the growth effects due to innovation networks connected to universities, especially on smaller universities and regions, inclusive of smaller regional cities and their innovation systems. At the highest level of the world ranking of cities is found the so called world cities, capitals or important financial centres in bigger economies. Second tier cities are often defined as capitals in smaller economies, regional and important cities in bigger economies and also some specialized cities. Third tier cities are here defined as cities with a university, an innovation system (science parks) and have functions as a service centre for a region. In the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) they are normally of the size 50.000-100.000 and in China the size is 250.000 and sometimes somewhat bigger.

This project concerns smaller science parks in South Sweden, northern Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland and have some bench marking with bigger parks in those countries. Comparisons will also be made with five "smaller" science parks in China.The theoretical background is human geography and urbanization, innovation and the growth of cities, universities and the global knowledge economy second-tier cities. The empirical background is mainly participation in EU innovation projects, where universities, science parks and regional agents collaborated to help companies to find partners or business possibilities around the BSR. A network is studied of science parks in China and the Baltic Sea region. This study could be used as one part to discuss and find a new common strategy for the involved cities to meet the future.

The Impact of the Forthcoming New Chinese Growth Model on International Business in Sweden and China

Project Leader: Hubert Fromlet

After several decades of economic success, Chinese leaders have reviewed the growth model, which will influence Swedish and Chinese companies in their marketing and strategic management. Initially, the policy research efforts will focus on China's new macroeconomic growth model, which urges for less focus on exports and for an increasing contribution from domestic private consumption. This is a necessarytransition to both more future-oriented investments and less prestigious investments, which may aim at better environmental conditions, surging productivity and more corporate investments.

The increasing role of consumption will also be related to China's way to a new exchange rate system which should be supported by the avoidance of the so-called middle income trap, new incentives for more normal levels of private households' savings ratios and, consequently, consumption requirements (Fromlet 2013). The implementation of the new growth model will most certainly change important parts of the corporate sector fundamentally and investments will occur more selectively. All this will mean new conditions for investments, purchasing and sales, marketing included, and it will concern both sides - China and Sweden.

The links of the macro and micro spheres - i.e. the relationships between the changing macroeconomic conditions and their impact on corporate strategies in Sweden and China - will thus be prominent parts of this project. Using such a combined macro and micro approach for research is still quite rare, particularly in the case of China.

Different aspects of China's new consumption-led growth model and its effects on the corporate sector will be studied, e.g. social and psychological parameters, geographical factors, and changing motives for household savings. The focus will be more on the conditions for the Chinese and foreign (Swedish) companies that remain mainly exporting and/or are mostly active in the production of investment goods. Theory and applied research are important as a fundamental entry into the subproject.

Four different kinds of interviews are planned, addressing to a substantial number of well-established China researchers all over the globe, Swedish and Chinese companies, and empirical research of our own.

More about CIBEM

Researchers

The Research Network

The research at CIBEM is network-based and is undertaken through a large national and international network of researchers and firms in close cooperation with many local and regional organizations.

The main research collaborators or 'hubs' in Sweden are the Mid-Sweden University, and Stockholm University. The core of the international network is the research collaboration withthe Global Entrepreneurship Research Center (GERC) at the Zhejiang university, China, organized through the China Sweden Management Research Center (CSMRC).

Conferences play a vital role in extending and maintaining the international research network. Researchers from CIBEM therefore participate as track organizers/chairs and presenters of articles in research conferences throughout the globe, focusing on conferences organized by associations representing the research fields of CIBEM:

  • Academy of International Business (AIB)
  • European International Business Academy (EIBA)
  • McGill International Entreprenurship Conference
  • The annual China Goes Global conference organized by the Chinese Globalization Association (CGA)
  • The Swedish Network for European Studies in Economics and Business (SNEE)
  • The Euro-Asian Management Studies Association (EAMSA)

Education

Education is a major activity of CIBEM. The main purpose is to convert research into education by building and transferring new knowledge. Research and education are integrated through that members of CIBEM are both researchers and teachers, where the aim is to match the individual research and education of each person in the best possible way. This is accomplished through participation in two graduate programmes.

Research students in marketing from the doctoral programme of the School of Business and Economics are directly involved in the projects, where they do their doctoral theses by learning to research together with the professors, inter alia in writing and publishing articles. So far, three former doctoral studentshave graduated, viz. Rafal Dudkowski St. Gallen, 2009 (Industry-University R&D Partnerships as Activity Networks: Comparative Case Study of Two Telecom Companies. Dissertation no. 3614, University of St. Gallen), Mikael Hilmersson (Linnéuniversitetet, 2011) och Susanne Sandberg (Linnéuniversitetet, 2012).

CIBEM is also responsible for and manages a one-year master programme 'International business strategy', focusing on emerging markets. This programme is a directly linked to the undergraduate programme in International business at the Linnaeus School of Business and Economics, making the centre a critical link between basic and advanced levels in education in marketing.

Research results are transformed into education mainly through publishing own text-books based on the research directly for the courses of the programme. Many research articles published by the team are also used in these courses. This programme has also been an important base for identifying potential doctoral students. At least ten previous students have entered doctoral programmes: Four at CIBEM, of which three have graduated.

Contributions to Society

Important contributions are made to society besides the research and student communities from the research and education at the CIBEM, especially to regional the business development in South Sweden.

For example, a major part of the research concerns the international business of smaller export firms from the most Southern part of Sweden, mainly how they internationalize their business to emerging markets and how this new global business has been influenced by the economic crises since 2008.

The research on business firms in China communicated to society through publications and open seminars has created new knowledge about how to do business in one of the most important markets in the world now and in the future. The cooperation with the GERC at the Zhejiang University through the CSMRC will make this contribution to society even more important.

In two research projects firms have participate directly as co-researchers. This close collaboration with many small local firms also benefits the master programme, especially by being foundation for the 'Live case' pedagogy used. CIBEM therefore works as s meeting place between firms, local authorities and the university about regional development, especially in the Baltic Sea area and China.

Grants

The research at CIBEM of both professors and doctoral students is mainly financed by external sources.

The biggest financiers are Handelsbankens forskningsfonder which support two major projects. Regionförbundet is the main financier of the chair professorship, which heads the CIBEM. Sparbanksstiftelsen Kronan provided a large grant that made it possible to establish the China Sweden Management Research Center by building up the research on business in China through the collaboration with Zhejiang University.

Awards

Hans Jansson and Sten Söderman: Best Paper Award sponsored by the Thunderbird International Business Review at the China Goes Global Conference, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, 2010: "Initial Internationalization of Chinese Privately-Owned Enterprises – The Take-off Process".

Hans Jansson: Best Reviewer Award of the Euro-Asia Management Studies Association conference in Göteborg, 2010.

Susanne Sandberg: Nominated for the Haynes Prize for 'Most Promising Scholar. Paper presented at the Academy of International Business in Washington, DC, USA, June 30-July 3, 2012

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