Professor Elena Beleska-Spasova

Professor in International Business

Professor  Elena Beleska-Spasova

Professor Elena Beleska-Spasova

Head of Post-experience Postgraduate Programmes
International Business and Strategy
By area: International Business, Strategy, Performance, Competitive Advantage, RBV
By industry: Manufacturing, Services
By geography: Europe, Asia
HBS 134 Whiteknights
+44 (0) 118 378 7194 (Whiteknights Campus) & +44 (0)149 141 8765 (Greenlands Campus)
View publications


Elena is Professor in International Business at Henley Business School, University of Reading. Elena’s research provides insights into the strategic issues and challenges faced by managers of both multinational corporations and SMEs in the international environment. Her current research activities and interests are focused on the area of international business strategies of international firms, firm-specific resources and capabilities as drivers of firm’s competitive advantage and firm’s performance, and the Global Value Chain phenomenon. Elena is a subject area leader in International Business on the full time and executive MBA programmes at Henley Business School. Prior to joining academia, Elena spent over 10 years as a Management Consultant 7 of which were as a Strategy Consultant with Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Canada. Her extensive professional experience include corporate and operations strategy development and implementation, process and profit improvement, enterprise development, project management, as well as economic analysis, market research and feasibility analysis. Her client portfolio spans from strategy development projects for large Canadian and USA international corporations, international new venture strategies for SMEs, feasibility studies for government agencies in Canada, Cyprus, Macedonia, and World Bank projects in post-war Bosnia.

Research Interests

Prof Elena Beleska-Spasova's main research interest is in advancing an integrated approach to studying international business phenomena where the internalization theory is complemented with dynamic capabilities perspective and entrepreneurial theory. In this more integrated approach transformational capabilities and entrepreneurial management are incorporated into the internalization theory and coupled with international management perspectives.

Globalization is changing the nature of competitive strategies and governance modalities deployed by firms across borders and value chains. In this context there are four interlinked areas of research interest:

Dynamic and entrepreneurial capabilities as critical firm-specific advantages driving international expansion and competitiveness. Dynamic capabilities in coordination/integration, recombination and renewal/transformation are of specific research interest as these are deemed to be particularly relevant in initiating and managing cross border operations, i.e. the firm’s ability to coordinate/integrate operations in multiple national settings, transfer and recombine knowledge across its geographically diverse network of affiliates and locations, and reconfigure and renew its resources to adjust to or shape local environments. There is a growing consensus that entrepreneurship is one of the key resources of a successful firm. Research interest is focused on studying entrepreneurial capabilities particularly within MNEs and their network of affiliates.

Integration versus disintegration of Global Value Chains as a source of competitive advantage – a micro perspective. The research interest is in exploring whether specialization, as a result of disintegration of a value chain, is the best competitive strategy for all firms, or whether inter-activity interdependences and the significance of knowledge sharing offer value creation opportunities superior to specialization benefits. Topics of interest include: the role of asset specificity (generic, specialized or co-specialized assets), the role of governance modalities, co-location relevance particularly of innovation and production functions.

Governance modalities of cross border expansion and operations – ownership versus control issue. One particular phenomenon demanding attention is the decoupling of the two pillars of internalization, ownership and control. Although FDI remains one of the main modes by which MNEs engage in cross-border value adding activities, the MNE may also control and engage in value adding activities through non-equity means, such as through cooperative agreements and outsourcing. Study of governance (entry as well as operating) modes’ diversity, deployment of mixed modes across the value chain, mode change, non-equity modes control mechanisms, are of potential interest.

The effects of economic disintegration on the international competitiveness of firms from the exiting country – the case of BREXIT. While the phenomena of economic integration and its impact at both micro and macro level is a well researched topic, very little has been done on the process and impact of economic disintegration, its contingencies and outcomes at both national and firm level. We are presented with a unique opportunity to conduct a ‘live case’ research as the process of BREXIT unfolds in the UK.

Past Work Exerience

Strategy Management Consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Canada.