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The Theoretical Value of Studying Indian Multinationals

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The Theoretical Value of Studying Indian Multinationals

Ravi Ramamurti
The rise of new multinationals in countries like India provides an opportunity to revisit and carefully construct theories of how firms internationalize—a topic on which extant theory is weak. Indian firms are “infant MNEs,” unlike Western firms that are “mature MNEs.” Indian firms are also internationalizing in a very different global context, and can do so on the basis of different competitive advantages, than MNEs that came before. Finally, research on Indian MNEs can help identify generic strategies for internationalization, examples of which are provided in the article. By pursuing the lines of inquiry proposed, research on Indian MNEs can contribute not just to better local practice but also to broader theory building about early-stage internationalization.
Ravi Ramamurti is CBA Distinguished Professor of International Business and Director, Centre for Emerging Markets, at Northeastern University, USA. E- mail r.ramamurti@neu.edu. This essay draws heavily on the author’s two papers (“Why Study Emerging-market Multinationals?” and “What Have We Learned about Emerging –market Multinationals?”) in Ravi Ramamurti & Jitendra V. Singh (eds.) (2009), Emerging Multinationals in Emerging Markets, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Research on Internationalization of Indian Firms Research on India’s emerging multinational enterprises (MNEs) may be intrinsically rewarding for India specialists, but to interest the broader community of international business (IB) scholars, it must contribute to IB theory more generally. In this essay, I will suggest a few ways in which such a contribution might be made. My argument, quite simply, is that the extant IB literature on how firms become multinationals is rather limited and that research on the internationalization of Indian firms provides an...

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