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The Belt-and-Road Initiative in the New Era of Globalization

Special issue call for papers from Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

The submission portal for this special issue will open September 1, 2019

Guest Editors:
Peter J. Williamson (University of Cambridge)
Abby Jingzi Zhou (University of Nottingham Ningbo China)
Rosalie L. Tung (Simon Fraser University)

Consulting Editor:
Peter Ping Li (University of Nottingham Ningbo China)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management
(CCSM) is pleased to invite submissions to a special issue, which will address the issues facing MNEs, both from advanced economies as AMNEs and from emerging economies as EMNEs, in the new era of globalization with the unique opportunities and challenges arising from the development of Belt-and-Road initiative (BRI) across several regions in the world, especially between Europe and Asia (Li, 2018).  

In 2013, China launched the Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI) mega-project for promoting the infrastructure development and investment initiatives that would stretch from Southeast Asia to Europe and Africa. The BRI embraced more than 70 countries that account for half of the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP. Upon its announcement, the BRI has attracted diverse reactions across the world. Some Belt and Road countries have expressed concerns over the debt burdens and governance standards associated with the BRI projects. In contrast, in March 2019, Italy, one of the G7 countries, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China to take an active part in the BRI. China and Italy also signed ten additional agreements in sectors such as port management, energy, steel, among others; they even signed another MOU for their cooperation in Africa. The Sino-Italy MOU indicates that it is possible to frame the BRI as an effective mechanism for the cooperation between China and Europe (also the rest of the world) on a fair and equal footing in a new era of globalization, but the jury is still out for the effectiveness of MOU’s actual implementation (Li et al., 2019). In sum, the BRI could provide unique opportunities and challenges for both AMNEs and EMNEs in the future. 

The past three decades have witnessed the remarkable transformation in emerging economies and the rapid growth of EMNEs to become global players. In contrast to AMNEs from the US and Europe, the fast-paced emergence of EMNEs from countries such as China and India are related to both inward internationalization in their home countries and outward internationalization in their host countries, especially the interaction and integration between the two patterns of internationalization. As EMNEs have learnt many technological and organizational skills from AMNEs in the process of inward internationalization at home, they have started to undertake outward internationalization in some unconventional ways. Nowadays, outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) from the emerging economies is playing a critical role in the global market, especially in the form of cross-border merger and acquisition (M&A) in advanced economies.  

The booming OFDI by EMNEs could be attributed to several pressures, such as latecomer status, strong presence and competition from global rivals in their home countries, rapid changes in technological and market conditions, and domestic institutional constraints. Hence, EMNEs tend to use OFDI as a springboard to acquire strategic assets so as to avoid the institutional and market constraints they face at home and to compete more effectively against global rivals (Luo & Tung, 2007, 2018). Scholars also proposed and used the linkage, leverage, and learning (LLL) framework (Mathews, 2006) to explain EMNEs’ capabilities in identifying and bridging gaps, taking advantages of their unique capabilities, and learning from developed economies (Sun et al., 2012). There are also attempts to integrate the above views into holistic frameworks with the central theme of cross-border learning (e.g., Li, 2007, 2010). Others have tried to provide novel perspectives to enrich and expand the extant research, such as the interesting notion of “asset-creating” above and beyond “asset-seeking” (Yakob et al., 2018); the “second-home strategy” above and beyond the “transnational strategy” (Li, 2015), and the “invisible-touch model” for post-M&A integration above and beyond the “light-touch model” (Li & Yang, 2018).    

From an institution-based view, EMNE are impacted by the “rules of the game” in both home and host countries (Peng et al., 2008). In contrast to the conventional development of AMNEs, which stresses the influence of the institutions in the host countries, home country institutions play an essential role in shaping the development of EMNEs (Cui & Jiang, 2012; Peng et al., 2009). For instance, the Chinese government has been playing both negative and positive roles behind China’s outward FDI. Until the mid-1990s, the Chinese government has severely restricted outward FDI. Since early 2000s, the Chinese government has used a series of policy tools, such as low-interest financing, favorable exchange rates, reduced taxation, and subsidized insurance for expatriates, to facilitate OFDI (Peng, 2012). A large number of Chinese MNEs responded to such institutional incentives and ventured abroad. In the discussions about the features and determinants of Chinese OFDI, scholars have also pointed out that most Chinese MNEs are still young, like infants or teenagers rather than mature as adults, and they have been enjoying some special advantages provided by the Chinese government, especially in some sunset and sunrise industries (Buckley et al., 2007; Li, 2007; Ramamurti & Hillemann, 2018).

The springboard behaviors of EMNEs include a series of aggressive, risk-taking measures by proactively acquiring critical assets from mature AMNEs to compensate for their competitive weaknesses (Luo & Tung, 2007). Following this line of reasoning, M&A is clearly the primary mode of entry for EMNEs to access strategic assets (Deng, 2009; Peng, 2012; Sun et al., 2012), or jointly create new strategic assets (Li, 2010; Yakob et al., 2018), but the serious challenges of post-M&A integration remain for Chinese MNEs (Li, 2007, 2010; Li & Yang, 2018).

Hence, opportunities always go hand in hand with risks or challenges. The promotion of BRI is not only accompanied by the further development of EMNEs toward the greater extent and higher level of globalization, but also the debate over the apparent de-globalization as the possible backlash of globalization (Cuervo Cazurrra et al., 2017; Meyer, 2017; Hitt, 2019). In the face of such a backlash, the existing interdependence between diverse nations is getting weakened, and the growing restrictions on trade and investments will slow the development of all MNEs (Hitt, 2019), especially EMNEs. Although emerging markets continue to develop as OFDI investors and still attract strong interest as FDI destinations, it is important to explore how they are going to react to de-globalization. Moreover, as mentioned above, EMNEs are infants or teenagers, rather than adults, they must overcome their critical bottlenecks, such as poor governance structure, lack of global experiences, lack of managerial competences, lack of technological capabilities, and lack of well-known brands (Luo & Tung, 2007). The BRI has the potential to open more opportunities for EMNEs, but it also bears serious challenges to them with the greater volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) in the divergent contexts across regions like Asia, Europe, and Africa. On the other hand, AMNEs also need to think about the potential need to adjust their strategies in reacting to the quick expansion of EMNEs, especially in the context of stronger VUCA features partly due to the possible impact of BRI.

In sum, we are calling for papers to discuss the rationale and motives, activities, strategies, propelling forces, restrictions, opportunities and challenges of MNEs from either advanced or emerging economies in reacting to the context of stronger VUCA in the world with the partial influence of BRI. 

Papers for this special issue may include but are not limited to the following topics:

  • The potential impacts of BRI on, and strategic implications of BRI for, all MNEs from both advanced and emerging economies, especially EMNEs
  • The unique challenges to EMNEs in their attempts to internationalize or globalize given the lack of advanced technological and managerial capabilities in the specific context of BRI
  • The role of home-country government policies as an institutional force in the initial and later phases of corporate development among all MNEs, especially EMNEs, in the context of BRI 
  • The learning activities and outcomes of MNEs in participating in the BRI 
  • How do EMNEs factor in the UN sustainable development goals and corporate social responsibility in the context of BRI 
  • EMNEs’ entry modes into the global market, especially their preference for M&A 
  • The unique challenges of post-M&A integration for all MNEs, especially EMNEs in their reverse M&A in advanced economies faced with limitations on their absorptive capacity
  • The evolving relationships between headquarters and foreign subsidiaries of all MNEs, especially EMNEs in the context of BRI 
  • The reactions of AMNEs to the potential influence of BRI 
  • The impact of de-globalization on MNEs from both advanced and emerging economies in the context of BRI
  • The impact of VUCA on MNEs from both advanced or emerging economies in the context of BRI

The above topics are meant to be suggestive, rather than exclusive. Submissions about any specific topics concerning the central theme of this special issue are welcome.

Submission Instructions
All manuscripts will undergo a double-blind peer review process. Submissions should be between 5,000-9,000 words, including references, figures and tables, and follow the manuscript requirement outlined on the journal’s website:

Submissions to Cross Cultural & Strategic Management are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access is available at

Submission deadline: Dec. 31, 2019

The tentative publication date is the end of 2020.

For additional information, please contact:

Peter Ping Li (

Abby Jingzi Zhou (

Arjen van Witteloostuijn (


Buckley, P. J., Clegg, L. J., Cross, A. R., Liu, X., Voss, H. & Zheng, P. 2007. The determinants of Chinese outward foreign direct investment. Journal of International Business Studies, 40(2): 353.

Cuervo Cazurrra, A., Mudambi, R. & Pedersen, T. 2017. Globalization: rising skepticism.

Cui, L. & Jiang, F. 2012. State ownership effect on firms' FDI ownership decisions under institutional pressure: A study of Chinese outward-investing firms. Journal of international business studies, 43 (3): 264-284.

Deng, P. 2009. Why do Chinese firms tend to acquire strategic assets in international expansion? Journal of World Business, 44(1): 74-84.

Li, P.P., 2007. Toward an integrated theory of multinational evolution: The evidence of Chinese multinational enterprises as latecomers, Journal of International Management, 13 (3): 296-318.

Li, P.P. 2010. Toward a learning-based view of internationalization: The accelerated trajectories of cross-border learning, Journal of International Management (Special issue: 50 Years of IB Research), 16 (1): 43-59, 2010

Li, 2018. Forward: The deep-level substance of the Belt-and-Road Initiative. In China’s Belt and Road Initiative Changing the Rules of Globalization (W-X. Zhang, I. Alon & C. Lattemann, eds., Palgrave Macmillan, New York).

Li, P.P., Hofman, P. & Geraci, M. 2019. The Belt and Road Initiative toward an inter-continental ecosystem: The geo-economic cooperation between China and Europe. Thunderbird International Business Review (forthcoming Special Issue on “Chinese multinationals in the new era of globalization: The Belt-and-Road Initiative amidst rising anti-globalization sentiment”) 

Li, P.P. 2015. The Second-home model toward the dual-core paradigm: The implications of ISE for MNEs from advanced and emerging Economies. Presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Academy of International Business, Bangalore, India, June 28-30

Li, P.P. & Yang, Z. 2018. Reverse merger and acquisition by Chinese Firms for ISE: The invisible-touch model of post-M&A integration process. Presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Academy of International Business, Minneapolis, MN, USA, June 24-28

Luo, Y. & Tung, R.L. 2007. International expansion of emerging market enterprises: A springboard perspective, Journal of international business studies, 38 (4): 481-498

Luo, Y. & Tung, R.L. 2018. A general theory of springboard MNEs. Journal of International Business Studies, 49: 129-152

Mathews, J. A. 2006. Dragon multinationals: New players in 21 st century globalization. Asia Pacific journal of management, 23 (1): 5-27.

Meyer, K. E. 2017. International business in an era of anti-globalization. Multinational Business Review, 25 (2): 78-90.

Peng, M. W. 2012. The global strategy of emerging multinationals from China. Global Strategy Journal, 2 (2): 97-107.

Peng, M. W., Sun, S. L., Pinkham, B. & Chen, H. 2009. The institution-based view as a third leg for a strategy tripod. Academy of Management Perspectives, 23 (3): 63-81.

Peng, M. W., Wang, D. Y. & Jiang, Y. 2008. An institution-based view of international business strategy: A focus on emerging economies. Journal of international business studies, 39 (5): 920-936.

Ramamurti, R. & Hillemann, J. 2018. What is “Chinese” about Chinese multinationals? Journal of International Business Studies, 49 (1): 34-48.

Sun, S. L., Peng, M. W., Ren, B. & Yan, D. 2012. A comparative ownership advantage framework for cross-border M&As: The rise of Chinese and Indian MNEs. Journal of World Business, 47 (1): 4-16.

Witt, M. A. (2019). De-globalization: Theories, predictions, and opportunities for international business research. Journal of International Business Studies (forthcoming).

Yakob, R., Nakamura, H. R., & Ström, P. 2018. Chinese foreign acquisitions aimed for strategic asset-creation and innovation upgrading: The case of Geely and Volvo Cars. Technovation, 70: 59-72.