Emerging market firms' internationalization : how do firms' inward activities affect their outward activities?

Haiyang LI, Xiwei YI, Geng CUI

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

15 Citations (Scopus)


Research summary: In this study we examine how an emerging market firm's inward international activities (“inward activities”) are related to its outward international activities (“outward activities”) by focusing on the role of the firm's gain from its inward activities. On the one hand, drawing upon the organizational learning perspective, we propose that a firm's gain from inward activities may facilitate its outward activities through improving its resource fungibility. On the other hand, we draw upon the prospect theory to propose that a firm's gain from inward activities may hinder its outward activities by discouraging the firm's top managers from taking risks that are inherent in outward activities. With detailed data from a sample of manufacturing firms in China, we find empirical support for both lines of arguments.

Managerial summary: Are emerging market firms with higher inward gain more likely to engage in outward internationalization activities? We argue that it depends upon how a firm uses its gain from inward activities. If the firm can improve its resource fungibility (particularly organizational resource fungibility) from its inward gain, it is more likely to engage in outward activities. If the firm cannot improve its resource fungiblity, the answer is no. Our findings suggest that for emerging market firms, internationalization is not just a path toward new markets; instead, it reflects how these firms exploit and explore what they have learned from their interactions with foreign firms at home in foreign markets. Therefore, managers must think more strategically on developing (organizational) resource fungibility from their inward activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2704-2725
Number of pages22
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number13
Early online date21 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017



  • emerging market
  • internationalization
  • inward activities
  • outward activities
  • resource fungibility

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