Chinese Firms


Research Handbook on Globalization of Chinese Firms, Book to be edited by Craig C. Julian, Zafar U. Ahmed and Junqian Xu; Deadline 30 Nov 2012


The globalization of Chinese business enterprises, in the wake of the rapid ascent of the Chinese economy, has increased substantially. With it comes the question of how to explain Chinese corporate behaviour as an essential component of China’s new status as a leading world economic actor. Multiple reasons can be adduced to explain this global ascent: China’s enormous growth has fuelled its need for resources, both strategic and natural, resulting in differing choices and patterns of investment. China’s globalization has been driven, in large measure, by its outbound and inbound FDI activities which have evolved rapidly in the past 20 years and have implied varying explanatory frameworks. Once Premier Wen Jaibao announced in 2004 that ‘the Chinese government encourages more enterprises to go global’, the pace of Chinese outbound investment began to accelerate, with foreign acquisitions doubling from 40 in 2003 to 82 in 2006 and reaching a high of 298 in 2009 or some $73.20 billion, anticipated to account for roughly 8% to 9% of global merger and acquisition activity in 2011 (Williamson & Raman, 2011). The Chinese government openly encourages Chinese investment abroad, supported by a vast pool of savings and export surplus earnings, in addition to relatively cheap labour.

China is seeking the development of world-class multinational companies with a full range of competences to explore and exploit opportunities around the world, yielding enhanced technical know-how and access to distant foreign markets (Alon & McIntyre, 2008). The globalization of Chinese firms, in particular, has generated increasing attention in the professional literature (e.g., Williamson & Raman, 2011). With rapid economic growth in China and the societies with Chinese heritage social science researchers have been debating an important question: whether existing theories, which are primarily developed in the setting of the mature economies in the West, are nonetheless relevant and capable of explaining the economic miracles in Chinese societies? Or whether new theories based on the Chinese experience need to be developed (Barney & Zhang, 2009)? This debate has sharpened in the late 1990s and into the new century as China became the world’s manufacturing base.

Some scholars (e.g., Alon et al., 2009) believe that existing theories can satisfactorily explain the globalization of Chinese enterprises. Applying institutional (macro, external), resource-based, and internalization (micro, internal) theories to explain internationalization is now commonplace, but studies which seek to combine multiple theoretical approaches can offer a richer explanatory terrain. Scholars who assert that China’s firm behaviour does not need uniquely Chinese theories argue that, by definition, a theory should be generalizable to different observations across countries. There may be variations in how a theory manifests itself in various settings but a theory such as agency theory, resource-based theory, or institutional theory should be universal.

On the other hand, researchers have called for more indigenous research to account for context-sensitive research. Tsui (2004) suggested that the North American bias of Chinese management research has hampered our understanding by focusing on context-free conceptualization, where in fact, as Child (2000, 2009) noted, high context cultures such as China’s stress national difference.

Global management knowledge can be gained through either context-embedded, context-bounded, or context-specific conceptualization (Tsui, 2004). Indeed, the rapid political, economic, and cultural transformations in emerging markets, such as China, present unprecedented opportunities to apply general theories and develop new ones grounded in a new social context. Whether context-specific or context-embedded, the inclusion of context requires indigenization (Tsui, 2004, 2009). There is an opportunity to investigate the validity of mainstream Western theories in China, while maintaining sensitivity to local specifics, in order to broaden the range and applicability of these theories. The resource-based view, industry and institutional theories can be combined to achieve a better understanding of Chinese firms’ behaviours.

This Call for Papers is designed to encourage all those who are currently researching in the field of Chinese Management Studies to submit a paper to be included in this ‘Research Handbook of the Globalization of Chinese Firms.’ The intention is for the handbook to be as comprehensive as possible and to include a broad cross-section of papers from the different theoretical frameworks used in the Globalization of Chinese Firms. As a result, we are looking for as many papers as possible using the different theoretical frameworks. We are especially interested in conceptual studies, empirical investigations and state of the art reviews in the following areas:

  • Identify how the specific attributes of Chinese business groups help in developing multinational advantages which, in turn, lead to either asset exploitation in developing countries or asset augmentation in developed countries.
  • At the organization level, examine the relationship between internal capital markets, scope economies, vertical and horizontal linkages and internalized capabilities.
  • Examine the Inter-organizational attributes that constitute a location advantage as well as a linkage to learning.
  • Assess the relationship between institutional support, location advantages and learning.
  • Use resource-based, industry-based, and institution-based explanations to explain strategic- and market-seeking motivations for FDI.
  • Explain the role of family ownership in the international involvement of Chinese firms.
  • Evaluate the relationship between scope economies, vertical and horizontal linkages, internalization, technology-based competitive advantage, export experience, diversification, family ownership, excess family control, and high discretionary slack.
  • Assess the role of Industry variables like inter-organizational linkages, industry competition, and industry R&D intensity.
  • When Chinese firms go to a country with a different institutional environment explain how they adjust their organization to operate efficiently?
  • Explain the significance of Institutional variables like government support and regulations.
  • Describe how Chinese firms manage organizational learning.
  • Evaluate the role of culture distance, as well as capital requirements, for Chinese firms as they globalize.
  • Explain the role mergers and acquisitions play in diminishing the impact of potential corporate and national cultural clashes.

Deadline for receipt of manuscripts is November 30 2012.

Papers should be submitted via e-mail to one of the Editors, Dr. Craig Julian, at the following e-mail address:

Research Handbook on the Globalization of Chinese Firms Editors includes Craig C. Julian, Zafar U. Ahmed and Junqian Xu.

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