The Role of Knowledge in Firms' Internationalization Process: Wherefrom and Whereto?

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Twenty-five years ago the business theorists at the University of Uppsala in Sweden assigned knowledge a key role in their explanation of firms’ internationalisation. Firms’ learning – or, acquisition of knowledge - about foreign markets was pointed out as being determining not only the speed by which firms expand internationally, but also which regions of the world firms enter and what operation methods they employ in the foreign markets (Carlson, 1975; Forsgren and Johanson, 1975; Johanson and Wiedersheim-Paul, 1975; Johanson and Vahlne, 1977; Welch and Wiedersheim-Paul, 1980). Although challenged by other alleged determinants of firms’ internationalisation knowledge is still the centrepiece in theories on firms’ internationalisation process. However, the understanding of how internationalisation knowledge is acquired, retained, transformed and transmitted has developed significantly over the past decades. Simplicity and determinism have given way to complexity and managerial discretion in our evolving understanding of the role of knowledge in the internationalisation process of firms.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherDepartment of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2001
SeriesWorking Paper / Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School


  • Codification
  • Tacit knowledge
  • Managerial discretion
  • Information and communication technology
  • The Internet
  • Globalisation

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