Academic journal article Management International Review

Trends and Indications in International Business: Topics for Future Research

Academic journal article Management International Review

Trends and Indications in International Business: Topics for Future Research

Article excerpt


* Forecasting changes in business environments is critical for appropriate responses by policy makers and corporate decision makers. This article reports on a Delphi study which features three rounds of interchanges between experts on possible changes in the international business environment and practice in the next years.

* Results indicate that terrorism and corruption issues have risen in importance while trade negotiations have declined. Corporate strategies are seen to need significant reform to deliver on the promise of globalization. As trends are becoming more multidimensional, regular solicitation of stakeholder perspectives becomes more important.

Keywords: International business trends * Globalization * Delphi method--Trade policy * International business research * Corporate adjustment


Forecasting changes in the international business environment is critical for the policy, corporate, and academic communities. As the importance and impact of international business overall has increased, there is a commensurate need to identify, as early as possible, emerging issues, and assess their potential effect on policy makers, practitioners, and researchers (McKinsey & Co. 2006). While there are many individual broad visions as to the future business environment (Marcovitch 1997), a more specific way to engage in forecasting is to get the business, policy and research communities to interact in the process of outlining possible scenarios and resulting actions. Since no one region or location will be the only origin of change, a diversity of opinion across geographies secures a more balanced portfolio of comments.

The possibility to identify, analyze, and debate changes allows for the timely preparation of strategies in response to them. While some of the issues presented may already be emerging, the ideal results identify early signals of outlying phenomena thereby allowing policy makers and business leaders to execute proactive responses. Similarly, academics can be normative in their research rather than analyzing what may have already occurred (Dunning 2002).

Interestingly, while most agree that international trends are more important than they were only a few years ago, preparation for the changes brought about by these trends is lagging. In their global trends survey of 1,136 executives, McKinsey and Co. (2008) found that while identifying global trends has become increasingly important, few companies are addressing them successfully. In addition, the cross-over of information between the "silos" of disciplines is very limited. For example, top management research publications show an insignificant share of articles focused on the international and policy dimensions. On average only 5 percent of articles present an international focus (Werner/Brouthers 2002). At the same time, only 11 percent of policy articles focus on international issues (Sprott/Miyazaki 2002). A review of the 69 social sciences journals, listed in the Harzing quality list and with a title beginning with 'International' (Harzing 2006), revealed that many journals do not publish international research but rather try to indicate through their title that they would like to appeal to, or draw submissions from, an international community.


This study used the Delphi technique, reported to be a "method (which) produces useful results which are accepted and supported by the majority of the expert community" (Fraunhofer Institut 1998). The method integrates the opinions of experts using multiple waves of data collection and interaction between respondents. For 50 years, it has been used by leading corporations and organizations to develop strategic guidelines (Duboff 2007). Results of the technique have been used to guide decisions into investing in new technologies and markets and have brought together the thinking of a variety of different communities. …

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