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Innovation and internationalisation processes of firms with new-to-the-world technologies

Kriz, A and C Welch (2018). Innovation and internationalisation processes of firms with new-to-the-world technologies, Journal of International Business Studies, 49(4): 496-522.

While there has been considerable research into the internationalisation of high-technology firms, it mostly assumes that these firms are pursuing global opportunities for technologies which are ready to be sold. This assumption does not hold for firms with ‘new-to-the-world’ technologies still under development. We investigate the internationalisation patterns of such firms by means of a qualitative case study. Our findings show the internationalisation patterns of the case firms to be uneven and discontinuous in nature. We attribute these patterns to the dialectical tensions which decision-makers confront between expanding internationally and developing their technologies. The nature and duration of the uncertainty inherent to bringing new-to-the-world technologies to global markets explains why tensions between innovation and internationalisation dominated, rather than synergies. In these conditions of fundamental uncertainty, the case firms were unable to benefit from the positive, self-reinforcing learning mechanism that underlies both the Uppsala internationalisation process model and the accelerated (early and rapid) internationalisation postulate. Instead, the dialectical process model which we develop recognises the socio-technical nature of technology, the impact of fundamental uncertainty, and the need to account for nonlinearity and interdependencies in the internationalisation process.

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