Using the Resource-Based View in Multinational Enterprise Research

Paul W. Beamish*, Dwarka Chakravarty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


The resource-based view (RBV) has evolved into a preeminent theory of strategic management. It is widely used by international business (IB) scholars since there is considerable synergy in core research questions pursued by IB and strategy researchers. However, in research on multinational enterprise (MNE) behavior, the use of RBV remains limited relative to other influential perspectives, such as the eclectic paradigm, the Uppsala model, and institutional theory. This is not surprising since the RBV was developed to explain performance differentials between country-centric firms with dominant product businesses rather than large MNEs with an expansive product-geographic scope. We describe how these limitations arise from the wider range of outcomes and explanatory variables, multiple levels of analysis, and the spatial, economic, and institutional barriers that are relevant to MNEs. We discuss the application of RBV to MNE research by the first author and other IB scholars. We then provide directions on how future research could use RBV more fruitfully to examine MNE performance and sources of competitive advantage in several areas. These include diversified corporations, subsidiary agglomeration, emerging market MNE internationalization, subsidiary autonomy, international joint ventures and alliances, and corporate social responsibility. Drawing upon teaching case examples from the first author’s work, we also point to the effectiveness of RBV in teaching with business cases, given its focus on firm performance (strategy).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1861-1877
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes


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