Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Re-Examining Imbeddedness: A Critical Analysis of Global Strategic Management

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Re-Examining Imbeddedness: A Critical Analysis of Global Strategic Management

Article excerpt


Studies of the international tendencies in organizational activities have led to the emergence of the sub-field of global strategic management. Theorists of global strategy have suggested that imbeddedness, both at the level of geography and culture, is an impediment to growth, and advocate an approach that is free of such constraints in the quest for above average profits.

In this paper, we suggest that global strategic theorists have viewed the process of internationalization from a narrow and western-oriented perspective. Drawing upon the more diverse views of internationalization from economics and political science, we identify the critical views of internationalization which do not find mention in this research. We critique existing frameworks of global strategy, and offer an alternate research agenda for international organizations as well as theorists, as an imperative against intellectual marginalization and as a possibility for a more inclusive approach to non-western subjects in the field of international business.


In this paper, we attempt a critical examination of the assumptions that appear to have informed the literature on international corporatization in the field of Strategic Management, and therefore question the theory building processes that have arisen from the scholarship. In doing so, we seek to identify a few key research questions and directions which might invest the field with a greater degree of legitimacy, and address the various criticisms that have been leveled against it from diverse ideological positions.

In the past few years, the literature in Strategic Management has been increasingly captivated by the ideas of the globalization of management strategy (van Gelder, 2004; Harris 2002; Nohria & Ghoshal, 1994). While the issue of the internationalization of capital has had a long history in the field of business strategy, going right back to the works of Chandler (1962) and Perlmutter (1969), the current resurgence in the field may be interpreted as an attempt by the academy to respond to the issues that have arisen following the exponential increase in the globalization of world economic activity (Dicken, 2003), in terms of global shifts in manufacturing and production operations internationalization of investment, and widening circuits of capital.

We review the literature in the field of Global Strategic Management (GSM), in an attempt to locate the various ideological assumptions that drive the field. Following from the economic assumptions that are articulated within the mainstream scholarship in GSM, we examine the influential microeconomic theories of the Multinational Enterprise (MNE) that inform the mainstreams of GSM, in particular the internalization theory (Hymer, 1976) and transaction cost theory (Williamson, 1985). We also discuss the critical treatment of the internalization theory as it unfolds in various other social sciences, mainly economics and political science, offering a thesis that while the mainstream views of internationalization accentuate the non-antagonistic differences between the corporation and the state, they actually understate how collusive arrangements between the transnational elites actually create conditions for ensuring the successful performance and economic domination of MNEs. In juxtaposing these points of view, we attempt to contextualize the unqualified acceptance of the superior performance (and beneficial impact) of MNEs by the field of GSM and suggest that alternate research agendas in the field need to achieve a more balanced understanding of the theme of globalization. We end with a suggestion that theories of GSM need to exhibit greater sensitivity to power imbalances, issues of national priorities and geo-political egalitarianism, and the larger socio-cultural impacts of globalization rather than operate in a purely economistic and unidirectional perspective. …

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