|In this study, the objective is to explore which factors that influence the dynamics in foreign operation modes. Previous research has mainly focused on a static approach to foreign operations, and there is a demand for more qualitative studies looking at a dynamic picture. Thus, the current study addresses both the static approach, and the more recent theories concerning a continuous development of the foreign operation modes. The literature review forms the basis for a set of propositions that are being applied in the data analysis and discussion.
The research design is an explorative case study of Marine Harvest and Jotun. These companies vary in their international strategies, and provide the research with interesting polarity. Since the topic studied requires highly specific knowledge, the number of qualified informants is naturally limited. As the study is qualitative, the authors have performed four in-depth interviews as well as collected data from annual reports and other documents.
The findings in the study are both consistent with previous research on the field, and addresses new interesting topics. The most predominant factor was managers’ experience. The managers seem to choose options that have been successful in the past, thus experience influences the decisions being made through limiting the different mode options and creating a bias towards certain operation modes. In addition, external conditions tend to cause companies to either increase or decrease their presence in the market. As such, when conditions change, the company’s presence is also likely to change. These findings are in accordance with earlier research. Another interesting finding is that managers show a tendency to perform rules-based decision making in order to simplify the decision making process. It was also uncovered that the companies’ foreign operation mode does not tend to be influenced by competitor’s moves. In addition, the findings suggest that switching costs are closely related to ownership stake, such that equity modes have higher switching costs than non-equity modes, which may imply that companies continue with suboptimal operation modes instead of performing a switch. For future research, quantitative studies using a multivariate approach could be useful in order to uncover relationships and patterns. Also, qualitative research looking at other factors and contexts would enhance the theory of the field and make it more applicable for managers in a practical setting.