Scandinavian Working Papers in Business Administration

Working Papers,
Copenhagen Business School, Department of International Economics and Management

No 17-2001: The Role of Knowledge in Firms’ internationalization Process: Wherefrom and Whereto

Bent Petersen , Torben Pedersen and Deo Sharma
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Bent Petersen: Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60, 2nd floor , DK-2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark
Torben Pedersen: Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60, 2nd floor , DK-2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark
Deo Sharma: Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60, 2nd floor , DK-2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark

Abstract: Twenty-five years ago the business theorists at the University of Uppsala in Sweden assigned knowledge a key role in their explanation of firms’ internationalisation. Firms’ learning – or, acquisition of knowledge - about foreign markets was pointed out as being determining not only the speed by which firms expand internationally, but also which regions of the world firms enter and what operation methods they employ in the foreign markets (Carlson, 1975; Forsgren and Johanson, 1975; Johanson and Wiedersheim-Paul, 1975; Johanson and Vahlne, 1977; Welch and Wiedersheim-Paul, 1980). Although challenged by other alleged determinants of firms’ internationalisation knowledge is still the centrepiece in theories on firms’ internationalisation process. However, the understanding of how internationalisation knowledge is acquired, retained, transformed and transmitted has developed significantly over the past decades. Simplicity and determinism have given way to complexity and managerial discretion in our evolving understanding of the role of knowledge in the internationalisation process of firms.

Keywords: Codification; tacit knowledge; managerial discretion; information and communication technology; the Internet; globalisation

26 pages, June 12, 2001

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