Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

Internationalization of Top Management Teams: A Comprehensive Analysis of Polish Stock-Listed Firms *

Academic journal article Journal for East European Management Studies

Internationalization of Top Management Teams: A Comprehensive Analysis of Polish Stock-Listed Firms *

Article excerpt


The globalization of markets, technological advancements and increased competition have been important drivers for the rapid transformation process of Polish firms and the continuous internationalization of their business activities (Radlo/Sass 2012). Moreover, the enlargement of the European Union has led to fast development of economic relations with countries across the world (Schweiger 2014). In this regard, the internationalization of Polish firms is reflected by many criteria such as foreign sales, foreign employees and foreign assets. The transformation and internationalization processes of Polish firms are highly relevant topics that have generated a substantial stream of research. Many scholars investigate the internationalization motives, market entry modes, and competitive strategies of Polish firms (e.g., Cieslik/Nikk 2011; Sliwinski 2012; Trqpczynski/Wrona 2013). However, the question "How international are top management teams in Poland?" remains unanswered. To the best of our knowledge, there is only fragmented evidence on the demographics and the international composition of Polish upper echelons (e.g., Rakowska 2010). This research gap needs to be addressed because empirical analyses highlight the crucial role of top managers and their international experience in firms' internationalization processes (e.g., Finkelstein et al. 2009).

Several existing studies consider top management teams' internationalization as an important variable in upper echelons research (e.g. Sambarya 1996; Elron 1997; Hambrick et al. 1998; Carpenter et al. 2001; Athanassiou/Nigh 2002; Schmid/Daniel 2006). In this regard, scholars argue that international activities constitute an important part of the daily business of many firms and the internationalization of business activities shall be reflected at the top management level. It is assumed that top managers need specific international knowledge, skills and experience in order to successfully manage cross-border activities (Heijltjes et al. 2003; Carpenter et al. 2004; Schmid/Dauth 2014). Consequently, international top managers' human capital is considered as a valuable resource for multinational corporations (MNCs), and corporate governance codes in many European countries recommend the appointment of international top managers to corporate boards (e.g., Daily et al. 2000; Carpenter et al. 2001; AFG 2011; GCGC 2012; UKCGC 2012; Schmid/Dauth 2014; Schmid et al. 2015).

The objectives of our paper are twofold. First, we aim to measure top management internationalization in Poland in a comprehensive way. To do so, we analyze the nationalities, international work experience, international education, international mandates, home-country international experience, international extracurricular activities and the language proficiency of top managers. This approach enables us to contribute to existing literature because we address the call for fine-grained and comprehensive measures of top management internationalization (Greve et al. 2009; Nielsen/Nielsen 2013). Second, we complement exist- ing investigations that primarily focus on top management characteristics in the Anglo-American context. Our study provides empirical evidence on top management internationalization in Poland and thus it sheds light on an important, yet neglected aspect of internationalization in a Polish context.

The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. The second section provides details on our theoretical argumentation. The third section includes a description of the sample and outlines our research method. The results of our empirical investigation are presented in the fourth section, followed by a discussion and concluding comments in section five.

Theoretical aspects of top management internationalization

Human capital theory posits that employees make rational choices regarding investments in their own human capital (Becker 1975). In return, labor markets ought to reward top managers' investments in themselves (Judge et al. …

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