The Selection Committee for the JIBS Decade Award is pleased to announce that the 2014 JIBS article “A dynamic capabilities-based entrepreneurial theory of the multinational enterprise” by David J. Teece (University of California, Berkeley, USA) has been selected as the winner of the 2024 JIBS Decade Award.
The award, sponsored by Palgrave Macmillan, is designed to recognize the most influential paper published in the Journal of International Business Studies ten years prior and is presented at the annual AIB conference. In order to be considered for the JIBS Decade Award, an article must be one of the five most cited articles published in JIBS for the year being considered. This year’s Selection Committee members were Kaz Asakawa (Keio University, Japan), Catherine Welch (Trinity College Dublin, Republic of Ireland), Peter Liesch (University of Queensland, Australia), Andrew Delios (National University of Singapore, Singapore) and Rosalie L. Tung (Simon Fraser University, Canada; Committee Chair and JIBS Editor-in-Chief).
In recommending the award-winning article, the Committee noted that aside from citation relation considerations that led it to being short-listed, the article stands out for several other reasons as well.
First, Teece’s study opened the door for scholars in innovation to engage in IB research. IB and innovation research had long been disconnected in theory and perspectives. IB scholars have encompassed innovation into their own research domain, but such endeavors stopped short of motivating and stimulating innovation scholars to engage directly in IB research as their core research agenda, beyond treating IB as a mere context. Teece (2014) served as a gateway for innovation scholars to do IB research by providing dynamic capabilities (DCB) as a theoretical linking pin, through which innovation scholars found a way to theorize innovation in the IB context. In a way, DCB was a catalyst that paved the way for innovation scholars to engage in otherwise distant and unfamiliar IB issues, through the familiar DCB lens. Furthermore, IB scholars also benefited from applying this widely known DCB approach to global innovation studies as a way to legitimize and validate their IB-driven research in the mainstream innovation research field. In this way, Teece (2014) served as a crossroad for global innovation research by creating a useful theoretical intersection for the IB, innovation, and strategy fields.
Second, this study is a challenge to fundamental discussions on what are or what should be the conceptual foundations for IB research and for research on multinational firms. Teece (2014) takes care to illustrate where a DCB approach could extend the internalization approach, and thus the OLI approach, thereby enriching our understanding of IB and MNEs. Although one might not agree with Teece (2014) on the advantages of the DCB approach, and the limitations of internalization theory, the key contribution is that it opens discussion to new possibilities for theoretical innovation, which in turn, can propel IB research to not only deal better with issues related to innovation in international settings, but other related issues such as the process of capability development in maturing and mature multinational firms.
Third, Teece shifts the theoretical foundations of a theory of the MNE, the very nature of the MNE and its boundaries, so that it becomes a theory of organizational change. In doing so, he makes not just innovation, but entrepreneurship and managerial leadership central to understanding the long-term competitive advantage of the MNE. At the same time, he emphasizes the importance of a firm’s past. He reflects decades of research into the MNE informed by organization theories by tracing long-term competitive advantage to a firm’s heritage, culture and experience. His paper is an invitation to IB scholars to investigate the MNE’s internal routines and processes, and to do so in ways that are sensitive to time and process.
Fourth, this study’s approach can feed usefully into key findings that can foster valuable, thought-provoking discussion and debate by scholars and students. As an assigned reading for students, it can lead to important classroom discussion about what is the state of contemporary theorizing in IB and on MNEs, what is the applicability of foundational IB theory to the contemporary world, and where does existing theory align or not align with newly emergent IB phenomena. In this sense, by provoking curiosity, by stimulating critical debate and by providing a grounding for alternative viewpoints, Teece (2014) can help advance education on a topic of enduring relevance to people around the world. Moreover, given its roots in strategic management, Teece (2014) could also hopefully propel our IB community to contend more assiduously with the long-tabled question of how do we make IB research more connected to its cognate disciplines.
Fifth, DCB is perhaps even more relevant today than when it was published in 2014. DCB provides the framework to help us better understand the role of MNEs under VUCA conditions, such as bifurcation/trifurcation. In today’s disruptive world, MNEs are facing much tougher challenges to identify and seize opportunities around the world through their much-needed resilient organizational capabilities. It takes MNEs to self-renew their organizational resources and capabilities continuously to cope with highly dynamic, uncertain business environment. By introducing DCB in the IB field, Teece (2014) prepared a groundwork for IB scholars in the coming decades who ought to tackle the issue of global entrepreneurship management under the condition of geopolitical, social and economic disruptions.
Finally, international business scholars who are seeking insight on new ways that MNEs shape their business environments in our changing world will find insight in Teece (2014) as his international (strategic) management approach offers pillars aligned with understanding the causes of differential performance in MNEs. That scholars of international business and of international management are sometimes drawn into a ‘tension’, albeit a misleading tension of misaligned domains, Teece (2014) offers a platform for interchange that should assist in uniting these groups. The international business discipline can only benefit from strengthening its charter through knowing more about what is going on in the MNEs it studies as it competes in our ever-changing world. Moving towards resolution of tensions in scholarly fields and disciplines is the grist of scientific advance.
The Committee recognizes that the findings of this study will need to be updated and re-evaluated against the current realities of, first, digitalization that has given new meaning to the measurement and operationalization of dynamic capabilities; second, how MNEs can leverage their dynamic capabilities to better meet and serve the needs of global sustainability as contained in the UNSDG’s goals for sustainable development; and, third, geopolitical tensions and global disruptions that may have contributed to the bifurcation/trifurcation of the global economy along ideological lines and techno-nationalism. The first two developments explain for the addition of “Industry 4.0” and “Global Sustainability” as two new sub-domains by the current JIBS editorial team. Discussions around the nature of change processes and their implications for international business align well with the theme of the Academy of International Business 2024 conference, “The Dynamics of International Business.”
A session will be held at the upcoming 2024 AIB Annual Meeting in Seoul, in which the authors and invited discussants will comment on the paper. A reception honoring the Decade Award winning paper and its authors will also be held as part of the closing reception at the conference. We hope that you will join us in Seoul to attend these events; the date and times will be available on the 2024 Annual Meeting website when the conference program is finalized.
A retrospective by the authors, together with discussants’ commentaries, will be published in the first issue of the 2025 volume of the Journal of International Business Studies.