Call for Papers.Special Issue of International Business Review

Special Issue of International Business Review


International knowledge flows in the context of emerging economy MNEs and increasing global mobility

Guest Editors:

Xiaohui Liu, Loughborough University

       Axèle Giroud, UNCTAD/University of Manchester

Deadline for Submission: 31 January 2014

Existing studies on multinational enterprises’ (MNEs) cross-border knowledge flows have predominantly focused on the movement of knowledge within developed countries’ MNEs and/or on how local firms in developing countries benefit from the entry of foreign firms (Gupta and Govindarajan, 2000; Buckley et al., 2002; Görg and Strobl, 2005; Liu and Buck, 2007; Blalock and Simon, 2009; Ghauri and Yamin, 2009; Liu et al., 2009; Meyer and Sinani, 2009; Giroud et al., 2012; Irsõvá and Havránek, 2013). Such dominance may reflect the technologically leading position of developed countries. However, emerging economy firms that have lagged behind firms from developed countries in the past are now rapidly catching up. In particular, emerging economy MNEs (EMNEs) have gained new momentum in the world economy through actively engaging in outward FDI. These changes have been reflected in a new body of literature which goes beyond early explanations for FDI from emerging economies (Wells, 1983; Lall, 1983; Amsden, 1989), since FDI outflows from emerging economies have increased significantly and represent a rising share of global FDI (UNCTAD, 2006; 2013). The new literature strives to understand whether EMNEs follow different internationalisation paths or whether their strategies differ from those of MNEs from developed countries (Fleury and Fleury, 2011; Ghauri and Santangelo, 2012; Witt and Lewin, 2007); whether existing theoretical concepts apply similarly for these firms (Liu et al., 2005; Luo and Tung, 2007; Matthews, 2006; Wang et al., 2012); whether there are unique differences in the case of EMNEs investing in other emerging economies or least developed countries (UNCTAD, Global Investment Trends Monitor2013).


Despite recent literature, there remain gaps in the understanding of how EMNEs engage in the process of intra- and inter-firm knowledge transfer across borders and within host countries. Many important research questions remain unanswered: What is the best way for EMNEs to be successful in their strategic asset seeking investment in developed countries? How do EMNEs’ strategic motives affect the host countries in which they operate? Do EMNEs have new ways of learning or unique mechanisms through which cross-border knowledge flows are facilitated? The lack of answers to these questions is all the more surprising given claims that (1) EMNEs actively invest in developed economies through acquisition in order to access key assets, resources and technologies, and (2) they may have a more positive impact on host developing countries due to similarities in the level of economic development and institutional contexts (Ramamurthi and Singh, 2009; Giroud et al., 2012).


Facilitating international knowledge flows, a significant increase in human mobility has become a major aspect of the globalization process. Emerging economies have attracted a large number of return migrants who moved to developed countries in the past and are now returning to their home countries after several years of education and business experience abroad. This increasing trend of human mobility across countries may have profound implications for international knowledge flows. And yet we know relatively little about whether the cross-border knowledge flows of EMNEs differ from those of developed MNEs in the presence of international labour mobility (Liu et al., 2010; Gao et al., 2013).


These new developments challenge the dominant view of cross-border knowledge flows based on established MNEs from developed countries and represent opportunities to advance existing research in this area. It is theoretically and practically important to examine the nature, direction, process and impact of international knowledge flows in the context of EMNEs and increasing human mobility across borders, and enrich our understanding of these key issues. In particular, we need to unpack the socio-cultural process of cross-border knowledge flows by taking account of the characteristics of EMNEs and increasing global mobility.


This special issue aims to extend this line of research by focusing on cross-border knowledge flows and their impact in the context of EMNEs and human mobility. We wish to encourage IB and management scholars to identify new research questions and reveal new dimensions of international knowledge flows in order to reflect the new landscape of the world economy (i.e. EMNEs and an increasing trend of international labour mobility).


Themes of this special issue

We welcome submissions that make a contribution through interdisciplinary approaches. We invite theoretical/conceptual papers and empirical work that draws on qualitative or quantitative methods or an innovative combination of both. Potential themes include, but are not limited to:

How do EMNEs learn from host countries?

  • In what way is OFDI used as a tool to access international knowledge for EMNEs?
  • What are the challenges and difficulties facing EMNEs in terms of reverse knowledge transfer (RKT)/spillovers?
  • Have EMNEs established internal or unique mechanisms to enhance cross-border knowledge flows?
  • What specific roles do expatriates and/or migrants play in enhancing learning by EMNEs from host countries?
  • How or to what extent do institutional contexts affect RKT/spillovers for EMNEs?


To what extent do host countries learn/benefit from EMNEs?

  • What impact do EMNEs have on developed and developing host countries (notably through knowledge spillovers and linkages)?
  • How do EMNEs’ strategic characteristics affect their potential for knowledge spillovers and linkages in host countries?
  • Do knowledge spillovers and linkages of EMNEs differ from those of established MNEs from developed countries?
  • What is the role of expatriates and migrants in enhancing the impact of EMNEs in host countries?


Guidelines and submission information: All papers will be subjected to double-blind peer review in accordance with IBR guidelines. Authors should follow IBR guidelines, All submissions should be submitted electronically to SI: International knowledge flows and EMENs as the article type.Submission deadline: 31 January 2014. Questions about the special issue can be directed to the guest co-editors: Xiaohui Liu (; Axèle Giroud (



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About the special issue editors

Xiaohui Liu is Professor of International Business and Strategy at the School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University. Her main research interests include knowledge spillovers, human mobility, innovation and the internationalisation strategies of firms from emerging economies. She has published widely, with publications in the Journal of International Business Studies, Research Policy, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, International Business Review, Journal of World Business, Management International Review, Management and Organization Review and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. She is area editor of the International Journal of Emerging Markets and the Secretary-General of the Chinese Economic Association (UK).


Axèle Giroud is currently working for the Investment Issues Section in the Division on Investment and Enterprise at UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development). She is on leave of absence from her position as Reader of International Business at the Manchester Business School University of Manchester. Her main research interests are in multinational corporations’ technology and knowledge transfer, and inter-firm linkages. She has published widely, including books and articles in journals such as World Development, International Business Review, Journal of World Business and Management International Review. She sits on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals.

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