Academic journal article Management International Review

International-Business Research: Beyond Deja Vu

Academic journal article Management International Review

International-Business Research: Beyond Deja Vu

Article excerpt

International-Business Research: Beyond Deja Vu

Celebrating Klaus Macharzina, the longest-serving international-business (IB) journal editor, invites thinking about what lB publications - their editors, reviewers, and authors - have contributed to this field's development. This is no easy endeavor in view of the vastness and heterogeneity of the lB literature. Besides, others have already commented on the state of lB art and science, while various surveys have analyzed the contents of some journals.(2) Yet, lB research is an ongoing enterprise that requires regular evaluations as well as recommendations about what to do next, and how.

Our comments and suggestions will be selective and personal - based on our own extensive experiences as editor, reviewer, author and reader, but supplemented by the thoughts of scholars who commented on earlier versions of this article.(3) The Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS, founded in 1969) and Management International Review (MIR, started in 1960) will often be on our minds because they dominate the IB-publication scene in terms of longevity and prestige. However, there are by now a dozen other journals sporting the words "international, global, transnational or foreign" in their titles, plus countless articles in non-IB journals as well as books, chapters and reports, that will also inform our analysis.

Essentially, we will offer a "wish list" focusing on: (1) what we miss in many IB publications and scholarly endeavors, and (2) what steps are available to remedy such shortcomings. We will avoid grand appeals for more interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research because its need is obvious, but some of our recommendations are tangential to such a project. Our analysis is structured around statements or questions followed by suggestions. "International Business" is defined here as trade and investment that cross borders and require the coordination of functional areas - such as research, manufacturing, marketing and finance - configured in multiple national environments.

We Need More Critical Literature Reviews

IB journals tend to discourage or turn down papers principally devoted to interpretive reviews of the literature. We have been challenged on that statement on the grounds that there is no such editorial policy and that the absence of literature reviews simply reflects the fact that very few scholars submit such papers. We beg to differ because the editorial "scope" statements of MIR and JIBS (at least through 1997) have not specifically invited such submissions,(4) and a few scholars have told us that their literature-review manuscripts were immediately returned as not being suitable for consideration.

This situation probably reflects the personal views of particular editors because literature reviews may be found in the same journal in some periods but not in others. However, the Academy of Management Review recently referred to "comprehensive literature reviews firmly ground intheory" as appropriate for publication Smith (1997, p. 8), and Mahoney (1997, p. 1435) emphasized the need for "annual reviews of scholarship in management." Besides, the new JIBS editor has expressed interest in analyses of the state of IB research, cases, and review articles (Brewer 1998, front pages).

To be sure, critical literature reviews can be found in the introductory chapters of doctoral dissertations, in specialized monographs, and in edited volumes dedicated to a particular topic (e.g., the JAI Press series). However, most editors believe that journals should focus on "advancing knowledge" through further conceptualization, construct development and hypothesis-testing related to recent phenomena. While writers are expected to examine the relevant literature, their relatively brief reviews are primarily designed to reveal that they are familiar with important publications and to justify the proposed new research. …

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