“Time Matters: Rethinking the Role of Time in International Business Research”
Submissions open August 15, 2020; Submissions due August 30, 2020
- Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki, University of Leeds, UK
- Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, University of Turku, Finland
- Melanie E. Hassett, University of Sheffield, UK
- Elizabeth L. Rose, University of Leeds, UK
- Peter W. Liesch, The University of Queensland, Australia
- Ulf Anderson, Mälardalen University, Sweden
Special Issue Overview
This special issue intends to stimulate thinking on the role and impact of time in International Business (IB) theory and practice. We seek conceptual, theoretical and empirical – both qualitative and quantitative – papers that advance our understanding of temporal issues as they pertain to IB phenomena.
The current global environment is changing rapidly. Climate change, migration, trade wars, political volatility, technological disruptions (e.g., artificial intelligence) and the depletion of natural resources create grand challenges for firms. Such rapid changes pose challenges to the applicability of traditional theories. While scholars are calling for grand theories to address grand challenges (e.g., Buckley, Doh & Benischke, 2017), firms are struggling with the timing of their international activities in an increasingly uncertain, disruptive and complex environment (Doh, 2015).
Time is central to IB theory and practice, relevant to both stability and change in internationalization and cross-border operations. It has a crucially important role in the three domains – the philosophical, conceptual, and the methodological (George & Jones, 2000). The literature reflects a strong interest in processes, particularly with respect to internationalization (Knight & Liesch, 2016; Odlin, 2019; Welch, Nummela, Liesch, 2016; Welch & Paavilainen-Mäntymäki 2014). However, much IB research seeks to advance our understanding of internationalization processes by focusing on antecedents and consequences of specific events, rather than on the events’ temporal emergence and their associated dynamic mechanisms (Jones & Coviello, 2005; for similar arguments see Pettigrew, 2012; Van de Ven 1992). For example, the focus is often on explaining firms’ attaining specific internationalization-related goals rather than explaining the temporally-embedded processes of how they reach the goals (Welch & Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, 2014). Researchers are more likely to study initial foreign entry with less consideration given to subsequent post-entry strategies and their evolution (Chen, Sousa, & He, 2019; Fuad & Gaur, 2019).
While one of the first principles of process research is the study of events over time, several scholars (e.g., Hurmerinta, Paavilainen-Mäntymäki & Hassett, 2016; Jones & Coviello, 2005) have expressed concern in current and unfolding phenomena, such as Brexit and the trade wars between the US and China, highlight how political uncertainty can affect the timing of events in domestic and international business.
In addition, while IB research has long emphasized the importance of context (Delios, 2017; Teagarden, Von Glinow & Mellahi, 2018), we advocate explicit attention to time in our consideration of context to offer more deeply-contextualized explanations of IB phenomena (Welch, Piekkari, Plakoyiannaki, & Paavilainen, 2011). Accomplishing this will require the use of different methodological approaches, including the addition of deep historical accounts (e.g., Jones & Khanna 2006) and the application of novel tools such as interactive visualization (Schotter, Buchel, Vashchilko, 2018).
Few studies fully adopt a “temporal paradigm” (Pauwels & Matthyssens, 1999) vis-à-vis fieldwork, data sources (e.g. real time; longitudinal, retrospective) and focal phenomena (e.g. dynamic, discontinuous, historical). Time is often neglected despite its inherent presence in research design. Analytical approaches seldom allow for a processual contribution, rather relying on the prevailing variance-oriented approaches that disconnect processes through categorizations and coding (Welch & Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, 2014).
The IB field will benefit from making effective use of processual analytical methods aimed at uncovering dynamics and the relationships between constructs, rather than focusing on their similarities and differences or their antecedents and consequences (Maxwell & Miller, 2008). Bringing business history perspectives and the analogous futures research methods to the IB toolkit will help IB scholars make stronger theoretical contributions. Methodological advances are needed.
In qualitative research, the methodological approaches used in IB for analyzing temporal and processrelated phenomena remain underdeveloped (Plakoyiannaki, Wei, & Prashantham, 2019). Process and temporal research is currently subject to limitations associated with narratives that may be considered as chronologies of anecdotes that can be potentially flawed due to memory bias, hindsight-based conclusions and subjective choices regarding what is included in retrospective studies. Observational, visual and multimodal research are scarce in IB despite their potential to represent, contextualize and theorize temporal phenomena. There are also concerns about the feasibility of contemporaneous research, given time and financial constraints, and the challenges associated with analyzing longitudinal or processual data.
For quantitative research, there are well-established statistical approaches for analyzing time-series data. However, effective estimation of these time-series models (e.g., ARIMA) requires access to a long history of data (see, e.g., Rose, 1993). This is problematic in IB, as the assumption of consistent underlying mechanisms across long periods of time (e.g., a minimum of 100 years if the data are annual) is highly questionable. Therefore, we need to develop different approaches for accounting for time, without resorting to assumptions that relationships are consistent across different eras.
Objectives of this Special Issue
- To understand how assumptions about time shape theorizing in IB
- To incorporate the role of time in the conceptualization of IB phenomena
- To account for time more explicitly in IB research
- To develop more effective ways to include time empirically in qualitative and quantitative IB research
We encourage conceptual, methodological and empirical contributions that address, but are not limited to, the following topics:
Philosophical domain: Theorizing about time in IB
- How do different conceptions of time (e.g., subjective; organic; cyclical) advance knowledge of IB phenomena?
- How do different philosophical traditions (e.g., interpretivism, phenomenology, critical realism, positivism) define the study of time in IB scholarship?
Conceptual domain: The role of time in the conceptualization of IB phenomena
- How can we define time in IB research?
- What is the role of time in theorizing in IB?
- How can process and variance-oriented research complement one another in providing IB with stronger theoretical bases?
- How is time conceptualized in IB research?
- How can time-related concepts be defined in IB research?
- How do IB researchers take advantage of dynamic theories?
Methodological domain: Accounting for time in research design
- How do we define and distinguish between dynamic and static theories in IB?
- How can we incorporate time into the assembly of qualitative and quantitative data in IB research?
- How can we analyse longitudinal or process data – qualitatively and quantitatively?
- How can we incorporate practices and methods from business history research into IB?
- How can we make strong theoretical contributions using temporal, processual and longitudinal research?
We look forward to your submissions that address the important issue of advancing our understanding of time in the context of IB.
Between August 15 and August 31, 2020, authors should submit their manuscripts online via the Journal of World Business submission system. To ensure that all manuscripts are correctly identified for consideration for this Special Issue, it is important that authors select ‘VSI: Time Matters’ when they reach the “Article Type” step in the submission process. Manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the Journal of World Business Guide for Authors available at http://www.elsevier.com/journals/journal-of-world-business/1090-9516/guide-for-authors . All submitted manuscripts will be subject to the Journal of World Business’s double-blind review process.
Manuscript Development Workshops
The editors of the Special Issue anticipate holding information sessions and development workshop at different conferences. Participation in these events does not guarantee acceptance of the paper for publication in JWB, and attendance is not prerequisite for publication in the special issue. The first event is a panel titled “When Time Matters: Rethinking the Role of Time in IB Theory and Practice” organized at the 45th EIBA Annual Conference in Leeds in December 2019. We will announce details of these events through different channels.
For more information, please contact the guest editors
Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki, email@example.com
Melanie E. Hassett, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth L. Rose, email@example.com
Peter Liesch, firstname.lastname@example.org