The purpose of the paper is to critically diagnose the current body of knowledge on de-internationalisation from the perspective of its various antecedents and implications for firms, to identify key research gaps and formulate recommendations for future research.
Contrary to many reviews of international business literature, this paper adopts a deductive approach by applying theory-driven dimensions of internationalisation to extant research so as to identify key developments and research gaps.
Among existing studies, attention has been consistently devoted to divestments, reductions of operating modes and foreign market withdrawals, while neglecting other crucial dimensions. Moreover, while financial effects of divestments have been frequently studied, the competitiveness implications of de-internationalisation have widely been neglected.
Further research should consider de-internationalisation phenomena from the viewpoint of several interrelated aspects, as well as shift attention from studying failure to studying optimisation. More attention should be devoted to changes in the organisation of multinational enterprises in line with a changing degree of internationalisation.
The review provides a comprehensive synthesis of extant knowledge on the antecedents, forms and outcomes of de-internationalisation, which is of particular interest for decision-makers responsible for international expansion. This topic has been mostly neglected due to the sensitive character of the underlying decisions. The understanding of the determinants and consequences of de-internationalisation processes can contribute to a more conscious management of foreign operations.
The paper draws on the research paradigm of strategic management research, as well as international business literature, to refine the understanding of de-internationalisation and provide a contribution to this still under-researched area.