Twenty-five years of business systems research and lessons for international business studies

Mohammad Bakhtiar Rana, Glenn Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
90 Downloads (Pure)


Since 1992 business systems theory (BST) has been increasingly used to analyse not just firm characteristics, structures and strategies within national business systems (NBS) but also the nature of international business and its interactions both with national and transnational institutions. Reviewing 25 years of NBS literature, we attend calls in IB journals suggesting to use BST notion and findings in IB research. Our systematic review of 96 articles analyses the pattern & contributions by NBS literatures and reveals that it makes the highest contribution to international management and MNC-strategy. Contributions are presented in four broad thematic-junctures: (1) comparative business systems, (2) firm’s internationalisation and the management/organization inside MNCs (3) the role of internationalisation in the development of organizational capabilities and innovation, and (4) the emergence of transnational communities in and across firms and societies. Thematic-junctures are described in terms of (a) research questions, (b) NBS approaches and findings for RQ, (c) IB approaches to RQ (d) how does NBS extend IB and (e) what are the problems in NBS and future extension. Our review contributes to the recent endeavor of IB research to institutionalism, encouraging a productive dialogue between IB and the NBS research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-532
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Business Review
Issue number3
Early online date13 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • National business systems
  • Institutionalism
  • Transnational communities
  • Organisational capabilities and innovation
  • Comparative management/organisational studies
  • MNC strategies
  • International business studies

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