Discourses on Philosophies of Science in International Business Studies: Perspectives and Consequences

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International business (IB) studies revolve around two key perspectives that can be defined as a firm specific perspective and a generic perspective that combined provide a company with crucial insights into how to enter and navigate a foreign market. Combined, such an approach provides a company with a holistic perception of what kind of resources and capabilities that are needed when entering a specific market as well as what to expect of the host market that the company is planning to enter. The key issue here is how to design a research strategy that is to provide the analyst with data that makes him or her capable of developing a pertinent explanatory framework for how to engage a foreign market. Before starting to look for appropriate research methodologies and tools for data collection, however, a pertinent philosophy of science point of departure has to be selected. This article has chosen to discuss three different philosophies of science. Each one of them is capable of providing the analyst with a specific take on how to ‘think’ data that are being extracted. Arguably, whatever approach one selects, the choice will have a crucial impact on the outcome of the research process. After settling down on a specific philosophical of science the article moves on to apply this on the Danish shipping company Maersk Line. The key focus here is on how employees at headquarter and in selected subsidiaries ‘read’ the company’s global corporate culture so as to be able to navigate this particular company to their own benefit as well as to the company’ per se. The article closes with a critical discussion of the ramification of selecting one philosophy of science over another when engaging in either qualitative or quantitative research in an IB context.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherAsia Research Community, CBS
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018
SeriesCopenhagen Discussion Papers


  • international business
  • Positivism
  • Structuralism
  • Phenomenology
  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Maersk line
  • Global corporate culture
  • Employees

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