John H Dunning Centre - International Business Conference 2013

30 April 2013

John H Dunning Centre - International Business Conference 2013

Henley Business School at the University of Reading held the fourth Reading-UNCTAD International Business Conference in April 2013, organised in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 

This event took place in April 2013

'Contemporary issues in international business theory'

Henley Business School at the University of Reading held the fourth Reading-UNCTAD International Business Conference in April 2013, organised in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 

Please click here to view the conference photographs

This was the fourth in a conference series that takes place biennially. These distinctive conferences have become something of a tradition in the IB community, not only because we seek, as is the tradition at Henley Business School, to look at things from a conceptual, 'big picture' level, but also because we emphasise a critical (and we believe, healthy) balance between disciplines.

Our conference was structured around open-ended debates with an explicit focus on conceptual and theoretical developments. Debate sessions were intended to maximise participation from the floor, with the four invited panellists speaking for no longer than 8 minutes each. Participants were selected in a deliberate attempt to bring the best established scholars, and the most promising up-and-coming young researchers, in this field, to evaluate future directions.

We believe, in the tradition of John Dunning, that we need to continually examine conceptual frameworks. Are old approaches becoming dogma? Can theory face up to the evidence? Do we need to go back to the drawing board? Are we 'locked-in' to outmoded ideas, whether because of hubris or myopia? Enquiring minds need to know. We have been the epicentre of IB research for over 40 years by developing strong theory driven research.

Themes of the conference

Global value chains, dynamic capabilities and MNE motives

The 2013 conference was built around four distinct but related debate panels. 

Opening plenary: Making IB work for Development

Leading experts working in the development studies and development policy arena commented on issues that matter to development that IB needs to consider. IB and development work in parallel, and this panel brought to the forefront subjects on which greater cross-pollination is needed, and where researchers on MNEs and development might usefully focus their attention in the next 5 years.

Opening talk: Rajneesh Narula

Panellist: James Zhan UNCTAD

Chair: Panelists: Raphie Kaplinsky Open University, Ralf Krueger Chief Economist, African Development Bank, Xiaolan Fu Director, Technology & Management for Development Centre, Oxford University, Rajneesh Narula, Director of the Dunning Centre, Henley Business School

Panel 1: New techniques of international business research

  • Has the study of IB become bogged down by quantitative empirical testing?
  • What is the place of mathematical and statistical modelling in IB?
  • Should we be formulating theories that are more readily testable?

Chair: Gabriel Benito, BI Norwegian Business School

Panelists: Larissa Rabbiosi, Copenhagen Business School, Andrea Martinez-Noya, University of Oviedo, Lorraine Eden, Texas A&M University, Mark Casson, University of Reading

Panel 2: Reconciling dynamic capabilities with the OLI/internalisation theory

  • Can the nature of dynamic capabilities be better aligned to both MNE theory and strategic management thinking?
  • How do firms manage their dynamic capabilities through off-shoring and outsourcing?
  • Within the context of global value chains and emerging economies, how do dynamic capabilities matter?

Chair: Alan Rugman, Henley Business School

Panelists: Klaus Meyer, China Europe International Business School, Vikas Kumar, University of Sydney, And Kolk, University of Amsterdam, Philip Kappen, Uppsala University

Panel 3: Revisiting Dunning's four-way classification of motives for FDI activity

  • Is this classification due for an overhaul? For instance, almost all MNE activity has an efficiency-enhancing aspect to it. Strategic asset-seeking was meant to deal with investment activity intended to upgrade the technological assets of MNEs by acquiring R&D facilities abroad. Dunning did not consider that firms might acquire assets to overcome strategic weaknesses in their portfolio of assets. Others argue that this classification system is static: most FDI activity tends to have multiple motives. The motivations of MNEs evolve over time.
  • How do FDI motives matter from the perspective of host and home countries, and industry policy?

Chair: Rob van Tulder, Henley Business School

Panelists: Niron Hashai, Hebrew University, Pavida Pananond, Thammasat University, Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra, Northeastern, Axele Giroud, University of Manchester


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