The Death of the Uppsala School: Towards a Discourse-based Paradigm?

Lars Håkanson*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The key elements of the Uppsala school paradigm of the internationalization process of the firm are the historical context to which it applies and the micro-foundations that shape firm internationalization. Technological, institutional, and political developments of recent decades have fundamentally changed both the context of international business activities and the managerial practices that guide firm behavior. Consequent revisions of the model shifted its focus from ‘internationalization’ to ‘evolution’ in firms more generally, thereby undermining its relevance and paradigmatic status. This calls for a new conceptual basis and a ‘paradigm shift’ in research on the internationalization process of the firm. To promote this endeavor, this Counterpoint advocates the explicit adoption of historical perspectives, such as that of the original Uppsala studies, and methodologies, especially ‘archeological’ discourse analysis, as originally developed by Michel Foucault. Its aim is to understand the process of knowledge creation in specific societal contexts. Combined with social constructivist approaches to the sociology of knowledge, it could fruitfully be applied to the analysis of the formation and content of beliefs and practices regarding the efficacy of different internationalization strategies, as they have evolved in business firms and other relevant epistemic communities, such as those of professional experts or industries.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1417-1424
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 27 January 2021.


  • Uppsala model
  • Internationalization theories and foreign market entry theories
  • Historical method
  • Discourse analysis

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