Journal of International Entrepreneurship

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 157–174 | Cite as

Using narrative sequence methods to advance international entrepreneurship theory



Narrative sequence methods offer the potential to advance research methods and develop a common vocabulary for theory development in international entrepreneurship. While variables-focused, variance-based methods currently dominate theory development, they are atemporal, yet entrepreneurship is what entrepreneurs do over time. We examine the assumptions of variance-based approaches and compare them to those of narrative methods, which leads to a discussion of the nature of causal mechanisms. We then illustrate the use of narrative sequence methods to identify some of the mechanisms underlying the internationalisation of an intermediary in the electronic component industry, where internationalisation is interpreted as a form of innovation and entrepreneurship. We illustrate how these methods, whose value is being increasingly recognised, allow us to introduce time, timing and temporal processes into the systematic analysis of business behaviour and evolution, and to generate usable knowledge for managers and policymakers.


Internationalisation Mechanisms Process Research methods 


  1. Abbott A (1990) A primer on sequence methods. Organ Sci 1(4):375–392Google Scholar
  2. Abbott A (1995) Sequence analysis: new methods for old ideas. Annu Rev Sociology 21:93–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Abbott A (1996) Mechanisms and relations. In: Symposium on social mechanism. Stockholm pp 6–7Google Scholar
  4. Abbott A (2001a) The idea of outcome. Paul Lazarfield Centennial Conference, Columbia UniversityGoogle Scholar
  5. Abbott A (2001b) Time matters: on theory and method. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  6. Abbott A, Hrycak A (1990) Measuring resemblance in sequence data: an optimal matching analysis of musicians careers. Am J Sociol 96(1):144–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Abbott A, Tsay A (2000) Sequence analysis and optimal matching methods in sociology. Sociol Methods Res 29(1):3–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Abell P (1987) The syntax of social life: theory and method of comparative narratives. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Abell P (1993) Some aspects of narrative method. J Math Sociol 18(2–3):93–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Abell P (2004) Narrative explanation: an alternative to variable-centred explanation? Annu Rev Sociology 30:287–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Andersson P (2002) Connected internationalisation processes: the case of internationalising channel intermediaries. Int Bus Rev 11:365–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Augier M, March JG (2004) Models of a man: essays in memory of Herbert A. Simon. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  13. Axelrod R (1984) The evolution of cooperation. Basic Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Azevedo J (1997) Mapping reality: an evolutionary realist methodology for the natural and social sciences. State University of New York Press, AlbanyGoogle Scholar
  15. Bennett A, George AL (2005) Case studies and theory development in social sciences. The MIT Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
  16. Bhaskar R (1986) Scientific realism and human emancipation. Verso, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Bunge M (1997) Mechanisms and explanation. Philos Soc Sci 27(4):410–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Buttriss GJ, Wilkinson IF (2004) From “Snap-shots” to “Moving Pictures”: tracing processes using narrative sequence analysis in the evolution of an E-business. IMP conference, Copenhagen, 2–4 September 2004Google Scholar
  19. Buttriss G, Wilkinson I, Andersson P, Mattsson L-G (2005) Mapping mechanisms of internationalisation. IMP (Asia), Phuket, 9–12 December 2005Google Scholar
  20. Carley KM (1996) Artificial intelligence within sociology. Sociol Methods Res 25(1):3–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Coviello NE, Jones MV (2004) Methodological issues in international entrepreneurship research. J Bus Venturing 19:485–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dubois A, Gadde L-E (2002) Systematic combining: an abductive approach to case research. J Bus Res 55:553–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Easton G (2003) One case study is enough. The Management School, Lancaster University, LancasterGoogle Scholar
  24. Emirbayer M (1996) Durkheim’s contribution to the sociological analysis of history. Sociol Forum 11:263–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Emirbayer M (1997) Manifesto for a relational sociology. Am J Sociol 103(2):281–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gaddis JL (2002) The landscape of history: how historians map the past. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. George AL, Bennett A (2005) Case studies and theory development in the social sciences. MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  28. Gladwell M (2000) The tipping point: how little things can make a big difference. Little, Brown and Company, BostonGoogle Scholar
  29. Glennan S (2000) Rethinking mechanistic explanation. Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Butler University, IndianapolisGoogle Scholar
  30. Hedström P, Swedberg R (eds) (1998) Social mechanisms: an analytical approach to social theory. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  31. Heise DR (1990) Modeling event structures. J Math Sociol 18(2–3):183–190Google Scholar
  32. Jervis R (1997) System effects: complexity in political and social life. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  33. Jones MV, Coviello NE (2005) Internationalization: conceptualizing an entrepreneurial process of behavior in time: J Int Bus Stud 36(3):284–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Judd KL, Tesfatsion L (eds) (2006) Handbook of computational economics, vol 2: agent-based modeling. North Holland, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  35. Krieger N (1994) Epidemiology and the web of causation: has anyone seen the spider? Soc Sci Med 39(7):887–903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Langley A (1999) Strategies for theorizing from process data. Acad Manage Rev 24(4):691–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Langton CE (1989) Artificial life: the proceedings of an interdisciplinary workshop on the synthesis and simulation of living systems (1987). Addison Wesley, Los AlamosGoogle Scholar
  38. Lindgren K (1997) Evolutionary dynamics in game theoretic models. In: Arthur WB, Durlauf SN, Lane DA (eds) The economy as an evolving complex system II. Addison Wesley, ReadingGoogle Scholar
  39. Machamer P, Darden L, Craver CF (2000) Thinking about mechanisms. Philos Sci 67:1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mahoney J, Rueschemeyer D (eds) (2003) Comparative historical analysis in the social sciences. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  41. McDougall PP, Oviatt BM (2000) International entreprenuership: the intersection of two research paths. Acad Manage J 43(5):902–908CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McKelvey B (2004) Toward a complexity science of entrepreneurship. J Bus Venturing 19:313–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mintzberg H (2005) Developing theory about the development of theory. In: Smith KG, Hitt MA (eds) Great minds in management. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  44. Nisbett RE (2003) The geography of thought. Nicholas Brealey, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. North D (1990) Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Pettigrew AM (1997) What is a processual analysis? Scand J Manag 13(4):337–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pierson P (2003) Big, slow-moving, and invisible: macro-social processes in the study of comparative politics. In: Mahoney J, Reuschemeyer D (eds) Comparative historical analysis in the social sciences Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  48. Pierson P (2004) Politics in time: history, institutions, and social analysis. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  49. Pierson P, Skocpol T (2002) Historical institutionalism in contemporary political science. In: Katznelson I, Milner H (eds) Political science: the state of the discipline, centennial edition. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  50. Platt J (1992) Cases of cases...of cases. In: Ragin CC, Becker HS (eds) What is a case? Exploring the foundations of social inquiry. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  51. Poole MS, Van de Ven AH (eds) (2004) Handbook of organisational change and innovation. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  52. Ragin CC (1992) “Casing” and the process of social inquiry. In: Ragin CC, Becker HS (eds) What is a case? Exploring the foundations of social inquiry. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  53. Rescher N (1995) Luck: the brilliant randomness of everyday life. Farrar Straus Giroux, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  54. Roberts C (1996) The logic of historical explanation. Pennsylvania State University Press, University ParkGoogle Scholar
  55. Sabherwal R, Robey D (1993) An empirical taxonomy of implementation process based on sequences of events in information system development. Organ Sci 4(4):548–576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sayer A (2000) Realism and social science. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  57. Skocpol T (1979) States and social revolutions: a comparative analysis of France, Russia, and China. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  58. Sterman JD (2000) Business dynamics: systems thinking and modelling for a complex world. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  59. Stinchcombe A (1968) Constructing social theories. Harcourt, Brace, and World, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  60. Stinchcombe AL (1991) The conditions of fruitfulness of theorizing about mechanisms in social science. Philos Soc Sci 21(3):367–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tilly C (2001) Mechanisms in political processes. Annu Rev Pol Sci 4:21–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Van de Ven AH, Engleman RM (2004) Event and outcome driven explanations of entrepreneurship. J Bus Venturing 19:343–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Vaughan D (1992) Theory elaboration: the heuristic of case analysis. In: Ragin CC, Becker HS (eds) What is a case? Exploring the foundations of social inquiry. Cambridge Univesity Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  64. Wason D (2003) Battlefield detectives. Granada, LondonGoogle Scholar
  65. Wilkinson IF (1990) Toward a theory of structural change and evolution in marketing channels. J Macromark 10:18–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wolfram S (2002) A new kind of science. Wolfram Media, ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  67. Yin RK (2003) Case study research, 3rd edn. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Management, Marketing and International BusinessAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.School of MarketingUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia

Personalised recommendations