Advancing International Marketing Strategy: Innovative Conceptual Insights and Comprehensive Literature Reviews
As fields of study evolve, they undergo phases (Gusenbauer and Haddaway, 2020) in which advances build on the theories, concepts, and methods established in earlier stages of their development (Kraus et al., 2021; Lim et al., 2022). Along this journey, scholars reflect on a field’s progress (Palmatier et al., 2018) and make projections about its future development (Paul and Criado, 2020), at times inspired by significant new phenomena, particularly in the practice of the field. Following this tradition, researchers in international marketing strategy (IMS) have engaged in critical evaluations of their field during the past three decades, and the field of IMS has grown and evolved into a discipline that, almost exclusively, imports its concepts and theories from other disciplines (e.g., Chen et al., 2016; Christofi et al., 2017; Yang and Gabrielsson, 2018; Paul, 2020; Pedada et al., 2020; Safari and Saleh, 2020).
Overall, the literature on IMS has become less descriptive and more analytical over the years (Donthu et al., 2021). Research tools and procedures are being applied with more rigour (Hulland et al., 2018). Researchers are focusing more on using the appropriate level of analysis given the study objectives: for instance, in some studies the specific product-market ventures may be most appropriate, but in others a focus on the company’s entire international activities may be needed (Oliveira et al, 2012; Oliveira and Cadogan 2018). To comprehend firm performance, which is itself the topic of more thorough interpretations, new predictor variables are being employed (Safari and Saleh, 2020). At the same time, the thematic focus has shifted towards management (Yang and Gabrielsson, 2018) and often examines new sources of competitive advantage in a firm’s international operations (Vrontis and Christophi, 2019).
Given IMS’s broadened research agenda, it appears timely to examine the current state of IMS research. More specifically, several questions are worth exploring: What concerns are scholars attending to or neglecting and how have these changed recently? What major advancements in theory and methodology have occurred in the field? And finally, what do all of these suggest about ways to advance IMS knowledge? Two major kinds of review may be usefully followed in order to answer these questions.
Conceptual review papers play a critical role in enhancing the value of extant, domain-specific research (Kraus et al., 2021) not simply by cataloguing existing findings (Paul et al., 2021) but also by identifying inconsistencies and tensions in the literature (Hulland and Houston, 2020), by reconceptualizing, refining, or replacing existing frameworks (Vargo and Koskela-Huotari, 2020), by identifying important gaps as well as key insights (Sohi et al., 2022), and by proposing agendas for future research (Akter, et al., 2023). Although there is no specific template set for conceptual review articles, Vargo and Koskela-Huotari (2020) illustrated a typical structure of a conceptual-only article. Likewise, Sohi et al. (2022) provided a framework to help think about the development of conceptual review papers, and both Gilson and Goldberg 2015) and Hulland (2020) described elements essential to strong conceptual review papers and offer specific sets of best practices that can be used to distinguish strong conceptual reviews from weak ones. Done well, such papers make strong conceptual contributions to the fields. For example, in the field of IMS, Katsikeas et al. (2020) revisited published research in IMS in a digital era. Alongside describing opportunities, challenges, and research directions, they developed a novel conceptual framework that encompasses various issues involved in the design and deployment of effective international marketing strategies using internet-enabled technologies.
Unlike a conceptual review paper, systematic literature reviews synthesize an accumulated body of knowledge at a meta-level (Gaur and Kumar, 2018) in order to highlight the status quo of the research field in guiding future research efforts (Hulland and Houston, 2020), a necessary step in the scientific process. These review articles play a significant role in the creation of a knowledge map (Lim et al., 2022) through a pre-defined process in a transparent, rigorous, and replicable manner (Palmatier et al., 2018). As transparency allows a repeatable methodology (Vrontis and Christofi, 2019) and the integration of all necessary literature (Shaffril et al., 2021), this provides a solid foundation in drawing conclusions and creates evidence to support decisions in research and practice (Kraus et al., 2021). Indeed, many of the most impactful international marketing papers of recent decades are systematic pieces (Paul et al., 2021), as this type of research provides ideas and directions for academics to undertake novel research, instead of doing repetitive and recycled types of research. Simultaneously, apart from engaging in different thematic topics within the broad field of international marketing, they indicate the trendiness, the degree of hotness and coldness of international marketing topics.
Thus, the aims of conceptual reviews and systematic reviews are quite different, and the output of such approaches are distinct. Yet, despite these core differences between conceptual and systematic reviews, a critical component of both is that they resolve inconsistencies and identify potential explanations of prior study findings (Kraus et al., 2021). As Hulland and Houston (2020; p. 351) noted, such “explanations might emerge from theory (e.g., differing or unmeasured moderating or mediating variables), while other[s] might emerge from method (e.g., differing samples, measures, operationalizations), or even simple construct-definition differences (or ambiguities), across studies.” Both kinds of study also have the ability to look across existing research to identify important gaps (e.g., key research questions that remain unaddressed) limiting the field’s ability to move forward (Shaffril et al., 2021; Paul et al., 2021).
Aims and Scope
The aim of this special issue is threefold. First, it aims to publish conceptual and review articles that include a compelling summary of the state-of-the-art in a well-researched subject area within or in relation to the IMS field. Second, an important objective of this special review issue is to provide ideas and directions for academics to undertake novel research, instead of doing repetitive and recycled types of research. Thus, we encourage scholars to review and synthesize widely used theories, methods, and contexts in the field of IMS. The goal of such papers should be to develop logical and complete arguments while proposing new relationships among constructs, identify research gaps, and develop agendas for further enquiry. Third, this special issue aims to include conceptual papers and review articles that explore the links between the IMS area and research streams in related disciplines, such as Human Resource Management, International Business, Finance, Law, Consumer Psychology, among others. The special issue editors encourage scholars to submit conceptual papers or review articles that demonstrate the value of cross-fertilization of ideas between IMS and other research streams, both within and outside the business field, and establish an agenda for future research.
We invite articles of various types and approaches including:
- Domain-based review articles (e.g., Christofi et al., 2017; Chen et al., 2016; Kumar et al., 2023).
- Multi-disciplinary reviews (e.g., Yang & Gabrielsson, 2018).
- Methodology-based reviews (e.g., Hulland et al., 2018).
- Theory-based reviews (e.g., Safari and Saleh, 2020).
- Theory synthesis papers that integrate an extensive set of theories and phenomena across multiple theoretical perspectives related to the IMS research (e.g., Paul, 2020).
- A typology of context for IMS (e.g., Sheth, 2020).
- The building of a theoretical framework that predicts relationships between IMS constructs (e.g., Pedada et al., 2020).
Areas of investigation could include Conceptual Papers and Systematic Literature Reviews on (but not limited to):
- Operation Modes, Entry Modes, and Channel Management
- International mergers/acquisitions
- International joint ventures
- Subsidiary management
- Theoretical perspectives (e.g., real options, TCA, RBV)
- Ownership, channel integration, control, relationship management
- Export Marketing
- Export performance
- Levels of analysis (e.g., ventures, regions, the firm)
- Export market environments
- The Global Firm
- International marketing integration
- Global positioning strategies
- Global branding issues
- International Marketing Management
- Innovation and new product development
- International service management
- International communications
- International retailing
- Leveraging social capital and networks
- The internet and international marketing
- International perspectives on customer relationship management
- International knowledge management
- Global value chain integration
- AI in an international marketplace
- International entrepreneurial marketing
- International aspects of social enterprises
- Finance and international marketing interfaces
- International marketing and digital transformation
- International corporate social responsibility and sustainability
- Emerging market firms’ international marketing strategies
Pre-submission Special Issue Conference Workshop
Authors considering submitting to the Special Issue have the opportunity to participate in the IMR Paper Development Workshop and present their work at a Special Issue workshop, to be held at the 17th Annual EuroMed Academy of Business (EMAB) conference in September 2024. Authors submitting papers to the workshop will be able to present their work, get feedback on the suitability of the papers for the special issue, and build on this feedback prior to submitting to the special issue. Attending the conference and/or submitting a manuscript to IMR for publication consideration in this special issue are independent activities; authors are welcome to engage in one or both of these activities.
Papers targeting the special issue should be submitted through the IMR submission system to undergo a similar review process as regularly submitted papers. Questions pertaining to the special issue should be directed to Professor Demetris Vrontis.
Author guidelines must be strictly followed.
Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to "Please select the issue you are submitting to".
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.
Submission opens: 1 October, 2024
Article submission deadline: 1 April, 2025
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Chen, J., Sousa, C. M., & He, X. (2016). The determinants of export performance: a review of the literature 2006-2014. International Marketing Review, 33(5), 626–670.
Christofi, M., Leonidou, E., & Vrontis, D. (2017). Marketing research on mergers and acquisitions: a systematic review and future directions. International Marketing Review, 34(5), 629–651.
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Katsikeas, C., Leonidou, L. & Zeriti, A. (2020). Revisiting international marketing strategy in a digital era: Opportunities, challenges, and research directions. International Marketing Review, 37(3), 405-426.
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Paul, J. & Criado, A.R. (2020). The art of writing literature review: What do we know and what do we need to know? International Business Review, 29(4).
Paul, J., Merchant, A., Dwivedi, Y.K. & Rose, G. (2021). Writing an impactful review article: What do we know and what do we need to know? Journal of Business Research, 133, 337-340.
Pedada, K., Arunachalam, S. & Dass, M. (2020). A theoretical model of the formation and dissolution of emerging market international marketing alliances. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 48, 826-847.
Safari, A. & Saleh, A.S. (2020). Key determinants of SMEs’ export performance: a resource-based view and contingency theory approach using potential mediators. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 35(4), 635-654. DOI: 10.1108/JBIM-11-2018-0324.
Shaffril, H. A. M., Samsuddin, S. F., & Abu Samah, A. (2021). The ABC of systematic literature review: the basic methodological guidance for beginners. Quality & Quantity, 55, 1319–1346.
Sheth, J.N. (2020). Borderless Media: Rethinking International Marketing. Journal of International Marketing, 28(1), 3-12.
Sohi, R.S., Haas, A. & Davis, L.M. (2022). Advancing sales theory with conceptual papers: what’s new and what’s next? Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 42(1), 3-11.
Vargo, S.L. & Koskela-Huotari K. (2020). Advancing conceptual-only articles in marketing. AMS Review, 10, 1-5.
Vrontis, D., & Christofi, M. (2019). R&D internationalization and innovation: A systematic review, integrative framework and future research directions. Journal of Business Research. Vol. 128, pp. 812-823, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.03.031
Yang, M., & Gabrielsson, P. (2018). The Interface of International Marketing and Entrepreneurship Research: Review, Synthesis, and Future Directions. Journal of International Marketing, 26(4), 18–37.