Firm-specific advantages: a comprehensive review with a focus on emerging markets
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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We consolidate and comprehensively review the international business (IB) literature on the firm-specific advantages (FSAs) of emerging market multinational enterprises (EM MNEs). We do so through a systematic examination of 88 empirical and conceptual articles published in top-ranked IB journals between 2011 and 2018. The results reveal that in the past decades, EM MNEs have acquired several of the same FSAs as their counterparts in developed countries (developed country enterprises or DC MNEs) financial resources, technologies, marketing capabilities, brand equity, R&D intensity, and management competencies. However, more recently, EM MNEs have developed additional unique FSAs in the form of managerial capabilities - to cope with competition in uncertain and constantly changing environments; easy access to cheaper capital; a stronger commitment to networks, such as those with diaspora communities; and, political connections. These additional FSAs have catalyzed the internationalization of EM MNEs. Our study also shows that some hurdles remain in the IB literature on FSAs. For instance, while IB scholars agree that EM MNEs have different investment motives depending on whether they invest in other emerging economies or developed economies, scholars are silent on the exact FSAs necessary to make EM MNEs investments in the respective economies successful. To advance the IB literature, we present some promising future research areas and challenge scholars to pursue further empirical studies on the FSAs of EM MNEs.