One would be hard pushed to find another scholar who has had such a long scholarly writing career as Jean Boddewyn. Boddewyn continued to make major contributions into his nineties. Even in the last five years of his life, he published half a dozen articles in core International Business journals. A complete bibliography of Boddewyn’s scholarly work until 2011 can be found in this article in ISMO. This article was part of a Festschrift in his honor, which included reviews of his contributions to various fields.

Boddewyn’s collective scholarly work has been cited more than 8,500 times in Google Scholar, with a h-index of 43. Although he wrote much of his influential work alone, he co-authored with a wide range of academics, both junior and senior. In 2008 Boddewyn also organized and edited a book written by the AIB Fellows: International Business Scholarship: AIB Fellows on the First 50 Years and Beyond in the Emerald series Research in Global Strategic Management. He repeated this venture in 2014 with ten Fellows elected between 2008 and 2012 sharing their insights on important IB topics in Multidisciplinary Insights from New AIB Fellows.

Reviewing Boddewyn’s scholarly work is like reviewing the development of the field of International Business. It is impossible to do justice to the breadth and depth of his scholarly contributions in this short overview. Below is a very selective review of his scholarly work, focusing on his early and most recent work, both of which will be less familiar to many.

Boddewyn’s Early Work

Boddewyn’s first publication appeared no less than 70 years ago in 1952. It was a 118-page MBA thesis at the University of Oregon entitled: Production Control in the Pulp Division of the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company. It was listed in this Biography Theses and Dissertations concerning the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

His first journal article was published in 1956 and dealt with time study, bonuses, and productivity (Temps Élémentaires, salaires à primes, et productivité. Annales de Sciences Économiques Appliquées). Boddewyn’s interest in fundamental management principles was also reflected in his publication on the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor in the Academy of Management Journal and his provocative piece on John Kenneth Galbraith (Galbraith’s Wicked Wants) in the Journal of Marketing, both published in 1961.

However, most of us know Boddewyn mainly from his work on comparative marketing and comparative business more generally. His interest in these topics started early in his career. In 1957 he published “The analysis of business systems and their environment” in the University of Washington Business Review (not available online). Two of his most cited early publications provided a framework to compare marketing studies, published in the then recently established Journal of Marketing Research (1966) and a book on Comparative Management and Marketing (1969). The latter already features his trademark critical style, emphasizing the need for true comparative work rather than using the US Business system as point of reference.

His 1970 article with Masters student Musbau Ajiferuke “Culture” And Other Explanatory Variables In Comparative Management Studies became one of Boddewyn’s five most highly cited pieces of work. Published in the recently established Academy of Management Journal it is one of the first review articles in the field of comparative management, reviewing Cultural, Economic, and Psychological explanations. It finds Culture dominating as an “explanatory” variable and cautions against using Culture as a “black box”. Unfortunately, Comparative Management and International Business more broadly would continue to be plagued by a myopic focus on Culture for a long time, to the detriment of the consideration of other country-level differences.

Finally, Boddewyn’s earlier article (1967) published in Management International Review Management: The Trees, the Forest and the Landscape is an underappreciated gem, cited only by Hoffman in his 1978 volume on the development of management thought and by like-minded critical spirit Arthur Bedeian in his 1978 “A standardization of Selected Management Concepts”. It provides a fascinating insight in the birth and early history of the field of Management and should be compulsory reading for academics in the field.

Areas of Life-Time Contribution

In the next 50+ years Boddewyn would continue to make critical contributions in many areas of International Business. Here I summarise the three main areas in which he has made ground-breaking contributions through a substantive body of work: Foreign Divestment, Comparative management and marketing, and political behaviour of the MNE/non-market strategies.

In addition, Boddewyn also made important contributions to various other areas, sometimes even through single articles such as his highly cited 1986 articles in Journal of International Business Studies on the conceptualization of service multinationals and in Business Horizons on the standardization of marketing.

Foreign Divestment

Rather than studying foreign investment, Boddewyn charted a new path by looking at foreign divestment instead. His interest in this field led to multiple articles in all the major IB journals, culminating in a conceptual article in 1985 again featuring Boddewyn’s trademark critical and combative style: “This analysis argues that the current theoretical cacophony can be reduced to a simpler classification more useful in understanding and teaching foreign investment as well as in detecting where current theories are weak.”

Comparative management and marketing

Boddewyn is perhaps best-known for his work in comparative management and marketing. After his early work in the 1950s and 1960s on this topic (see above), he continued to publish a wide range of articles in this field, many of which were conceptual or review articles, such as Comparative marketing: The first twenty five years (1981) The domain of international management (1999), and The meanings of international management (2004).

He was also a passionate advocate for the field through his work as founding editor of International Studies of Management and Organization, which he served for 35 years (1971-2006) as captured in International studies of management and organization: half a century of advancing scholarship (2020).

His contributions in this field also include a very substantive body work in advertising self-regulation, published largely in various Marketing journals in the 1980s. Many of his research projects in this field had clear comparative features, culminating in two books: Advertising self-regulation and outside participation: a multinational comparison (1988) and Global Perspectives on Advertising Self-regulation: Principles and Practices in Thirty-eight Countries (1992).

Political behaviour of the MNE/non-market strategies

Boddewyn’s interest in the role of governments and political behaviour also started very early in his career with his article in (Columbia) Journal of World Business “The Political Game in World Business” (1972) (not available online). His highly cited 1988 article in Journal of International Business Studies Political Aspects of MNE Theory” was one of the first to call out the limited attention to political behaviour in IB. It expanded Dunning’s eclectic paradigm to integrate political dimensions in the analysis of ownership, internationalization, and location advantages. His major theoretical contri­bution in this field in the Academy of Management Review International-business political behavior: New theoretical directions (1994) became his most cited work. This is also the area in which most of Boddewyn’s recent work can be situated, starting with an article with Jonathan Doh in the newly established Global Strategy Journal dealing with collaborations among public and private for-profit and not-for-profit actors for the provision of public goods as health, education, transportation in emerging markets.

Co-authoring with George White III, Boddewyn published three articles in core IB journals on the regulatory/legal environment and political ties between 2015 and 2020: “Legal system contingencies as determinants of political tie intensity by wholly owned foreign subsidiaries: Insights from the Philippines”, “Regulator vulnerabilities to political pressures and political tie intensity: The moderating effects of regulatory and political distance”, and “Does context really matter? The influence of deficient legal services on the intensity of political ties in the regulatory and legal arenas”.

Between 2015 and 2017, Boddewyn also published a series of three articles with Peter Buckley on The internalization of societal failures by multinational enterprises (2015) and A manifesto for the widening of internalisation theory (2016), culminating in the 2017 British Journal of Management article on “Integrating Social and Political Strategies as Forms of Reciprocal Exchange into the Analysis of Corporate Governance Modes”. Boddewyn’s curiosity and drive clearly continued to thrive unabated until his late eighties!

Personal Reflections

In many ways, Boddewyn was a man ahead of its time. He pioneered many topics that have only recently been accepted as mainstream in the field of International Business. Let us continue to treasure not just his individual academic contributions, but also his critical spirit and ability to work with a grand canvas.

Reviewing his early work made me a little nostalgic for what – as a field – we may have lost in our search for empirical rigour and standardization: a real appreciation for purely conceptual and critical contributions, the liveliness of the birth of a new academic field, and the vigorous and combative exchanges between academics not afraid to speak their minds. Let us recapture some of that pioneering spirit.

Professor Anne-Wil Harzing
Middlesex University London
United Kingdom
AIB Fellows Bibliometrician