The death of the Uppsala school: Towards a discourse-based paradigm?

Abstract

The key elements of the Uppsala school paradigm of the internationalization process of the firm are the historical context to which it applies and the micro-foundations that shape firm internationalization. Technological, institutional, and political developments of recent decades have fundamentally changed both the context of international business activities and the managerial practices that guide firm behavior. Consequent revisions of the model shifted its focus from ‘internationalization’ to ‘evolution’ in firms more generally, thereby undermining its relevance and paradigmatic status. This calls for a new conceptual basis and a ‘paradigm shift’ in research on the internationalization process of the firm. To promote this endeavor, this Counterpoint advocates the explicit adoption of historical perspectives, such as that of the original Uppsala studies, and methodologies, especially ‘archeological’ discourse analysis, as originally developed by Michel Foucault. Its aim is to understand the process of knowledge creation in specific societal contexts. Combined with social constructivist approaches to the sociology of knowledge, it could fruitfully be applied to the analysis of the formation and content of beliefs and practices regarding the efficacy of different internationalization strategies, as they have evolved in business firms and other relevant epistemic communities, such as those of professional experts or industries.

Résumé

Les éléments clés du paradigme de l’école Uppsala du processus d’internationalisation de l’entreprise sont le contexte historique auquel il s’applique et les micro-fondations qui façonnent l’internationalisation de l’entreprise. Les développements technologiques, institutionnels et politiques des dernières décennies ont fondamentalement changé à la fois le contexte des activités commerciales internationales et les pratiques managériales qui guident le comportement des entreprises. Les révisions consécutives du modèle ont déplacé son objectif de « l’internationalisation » vers « l’évolution » dans les entreprises de manière plus générale, minant ainsi sa pertinence et son statut paradigmatique. Cela demande une nouvelle base conceptuelle et un « changement de paradigme » dans la recherche sur le processus d’internationalisation de l’entreprise. Pour promouvoir cet effort, ce contrepoint préconise l’adoption explicite de perspectives historiques, comme celle des études originales d’Uppsala, et de méthodologies, en particulier d’analyse du discours « archéologique » , telles qu’elles avaient été initialement développées par Michel Foucault. Son objectif est de comprendre le processus de création de connaissances dans des contextes sociétaux spécifiques. Combinée à des approches socialement constructivistes de la sociologie de la connaissance, elle pourrait être appliquée avec succès à l’analyse de la formation et du contenu des croyances et des pratiques concernant l’efficacité des différentes stratégies d’internationalisation, telles qu’elles ont évolué dans les entreprises et autres communautés épistémiques pertinentes, telles que comme celles des experts professionnels ou des industries.

Resumen

Los elementos clave del paradigma de la Escuela Uppsala del proceso de internacionalización de la empresa son el contexto histórico al cual se aplica y las micro-fundaciones que dan configuran la internacionalización de la empresa. Los desarrollo tecnológicos, institucionales y políticos de las décadas recuentes han cambiado fundamentalmente tanto el contexto de las actividades de negocios internacionales, como las prácticas gerenciales que guían el comportamiento de la empresa. Las revisiones consiguientes del modelo cambiaron su enfoque de “internacionalización” a “evolución” en las empresas en general, debilitando así sus relevancia y condición paradigmática. Esto exige una nueva base conceptual y “cambio de paradigma” en la investigación sobre el proceso de internacionalización de la empresa. Para promover este empeño, este Contrapunto recomienda la adopción explicita de una perspectiva histórica, como la de los estudios originales de Uppsala, y metodologías, especialmente el análisis del discurso “arqueológico” como fue desarrollado originalmente por Michael Foucault. Su objetivo es entender el proceso de creación de conocimiento en contextos social. Combinado con los enfoques del constructivismo social a la sociología del conocimiento, podría aplicarse fructíferamente el análisis a la formación y el contenido de las creencias y prácticas en relación a la eficacia de las diferentes estrategias de internacionalización, ya que han evolucionado en empresas y otras comunidades epistémicas relevantes, como las de expertos profesionales o industrias.

Resumo

Os elementos-chave do paradigma do processo de internacionalização da empresa da Escola de Uppsala são o contexto histórico a que se aplica e os micro fundamentos que configuram a internacionalização da empresa. Desenvolvimentos tecnológicos, institucionais e políticos das últimas décadas mudaram fundamentalmente tanto o contexto das atividades de negócio internacionais quanto as práticas gerenciais que norteiam o comportamento das empresas. Posteriores revisões do modelo mudaram seu foco de ‘internacionalização’ para ‘evolução’ em empresas de forma mais geral, minando assim sua relevância e status paradigmático. Isso pede uma nova base conceitual e uma “mudança de paradigma” na pesquisa sobre o processo de internacionalização da empresa. Para promover este esforço, este Contraponto defende a adoção explícita de perspectivas históricas, como a dos estudos originais de Uppsala, e metodologias, especialmente a análise de discurso “arqueológica”, como originalmente desenvolvida por Michel Foucault. Seu objetivo é compreender o processo de criação de conhecimento em contextos sociais específicos. Combinada com abordagens sociais construtivistas da sociologia do conhecimento, ela poderia ser proveitosamente aplicada à análise da formação e conteúdo de crenças e práticas sobre a eficácia de diferentes estratégias de internacionalização, como elas evoluíram em empresas e outras comunidades epistêmicas relevantes, tais como as de especialistas profissionais ou indústrias.

摘要

公司国际化过程的乌普萨拉学派范式的关键要素是它所适用的历史情境和塑造公司国际化的微观基础。近几十年来, 技术的、制度的和政治的发展从根本上改变了国际商业活动的情境和指导公司行为的管理实践。随后的对该模型的修正将其关注点从“国际化”转移到更多是普遍意义上的公司“演变”, 从而削弱了其相关性和范式地位。这呼唤对公司国际化过程研究有一个新概念基础和“范式转变”。为了促进这一努力, 本反观点论文主张采用历史观点, 例如乌普萨拉学派的原始观点和方法, 特别是由米歇尔·福柯(Michel Foucault)最初开发的“考古”话语分析。其目标是理解特定社会情境中知识创造的过程。它结合知识社会学的社会建构主义的方法, 能富有成果地用于分析关于不同国际化战略功效的信念和实践的形成和内容, 因为它们已经在商业公司和其它相关的认知社区中不断发展, 就像行业专家一样。

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Accepted by Alain Verbeke, Editor-in-Chief, 26 October 2020. This article was single-blind reviewed.

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Håkanson, L. The death of the Uppsala school: Towards a discourse-based paradigm?. J Int Bus Stud (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-020-00392-0

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Keywords

  • Uppsala model
  • internationalization theories and foreign market entry theories
  • historical method
  • discourse analysis