The globalization of the economy, internationalization of businesses and emergence of new markets are all key themes in contemporary business. Whereas international business may once have been the province of organisations with sufficient scale and reach, these types of companies â€“ typically multi-national corporations – no longer have a monopoly on this kind of business. Increasing numbers of firms, of varying scale, are confronted with compelling reasons for expanding their activities across multiple national boundaries. In some cases, such motivation includes the knowledge that success in international markets is a pre-requisite for survival; if competitor organisations succeed in international markets, they may achieve the scale and liquidity which affords them sustainable competitive advantage. However, scrutiny of the empirical experience of international expansion suggests that the apparent potential is by no means straightforward to achieve in practice. This raises questions about whether or not it is realistic to envisage a ‘best practice’ in terms of international expansion strategy. Can the latter be conceived of as a specific and transferable management skill, or is it instead reliant upon expertise in a particular sector of business, a market, or a national culture? After all, if proven strategists are found wanting, where can the organisation go in terms of its future practice? Large, successful and sophisticated businesses have often found that international ventures do not fulfil their promise. Moreover, these failures do not feature in only one sector of the economy; retailers, manufacturers, transport and energy companies have all found that expansion in contemporary markets is easier to plan than to achieve. The relevant strategies were often developed by otherwise successful managers and executives, appointed because of proven track records in similar or parallel enterprises. The retail sector alone furnishes numerous examples of this problem. The previously ascendant US Wal â€“ Mart group eventually abandoned its expansion into the buoyant German consumer market, selling up to domestic rivals Metro (Felsted and Jopson 2011). Sir Terry Leahy of the UK’s Tesco PLC saw his flagship Fresh n’ Easy store venture in the United States rapidly turn into a loss making enterprise (Felsted 2011). The point here is that these large, well-resourced businesses have been in the vanguard of market research techniques which employ benchmark digital data capture to measure consumer behaviour â€“ yet they still failed. It may be that, as the statistics obtained by as Guler and Guillen show, (Appendix Three), firms prefer to target what they perceive as legally secure, politically stable hosts (2005, p.2) A number of empirical questions are raised by these developments. For example, how best can organisations secure and maintain the right kind of strategy formation capacity within their capabilities? Should strategic planning ever be thought of as a continuing capability, or should it instead be seen as a reflexive capacity, more likely to be brought into being by the specific conjunction of factors, i.e. a one-off development?
The purpose of the proposed study will be to ascertain answers to the following types of question,
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