Call for Papers



Submission Deadline: 25 February 2021

Publication aim online and in print September 2022

Guest Editors:

Sunny Li Sun (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA)

Ping Deng (Cleveland State University, USA)

Xufei Ma (City University of Hong Kong, China)

IJMR Advisory Editor:

Joaquin Alegre (University of Valencia, Spain)


The trade wars, the COVID-19 pandemic, unexpected market volatility, increased migration, de-globalization, the emergence of multinational enterprises (MNEs) from developing countries, poverty alleviation… all these “new normal” issues are challenging us in terms of theory development and potential paradigm shifts across various organization and management disciplines (Ahlstrom et al., 2020). We suggest that a problematization approach, a novel theoretical approach in the domain of management and organization studies, can help to blaze new trails and address the new threats and opportunities of globalization.


Alvesson and Sandberg (2011, 2013) propose the concept of ‘‘problematization’’, which aims to identify new questions by overturning incumbent assumptions and modifying alternative theories. The problematization approach is different from a traditional ‘‘gap - spotting’’ methodology which rarely challenges the underlying assumptions of a field, since it constructs questions rooted in the current literature (Alvesson and Sandberg, 2011).  Indeed, problematization is likely to identify alternative explanations which could engage managers and policy makers in the conversation (Deng, Delios and Peng, 2020). For example, recent years have seen the emerging field of poor economics, which calls for “a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty” (Banerjee and Duflo, 2011).


This special issue seeks to include exemplary research on globalization-related issues. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic is hanging over the current architecture of world economic relations. How do MNEs deal with this kind of game change and uncertainty? In addition, internationalization of emerging market firms (EMFs) is critical not just because of their empirical importance as emerging vital players in the global economy, but also due to the apparent contradictions between some of their strategies and behaviours and the predictions of mainstream theories. When internationalization was primarily a transatlantic affair (i.e., among the U.S., Canada and Western Europe), perhaps it worked as predicted originally by mainstream theories, such as Dunning’s eclectic paradigm (Dunning, 1995). However, as an increasing number and diversity of nations, including China, India and Russia, enter the game, the assumptions on the firm-specific advantage of the ownership, location, and internalization hold less well. After all, EMFs mirror the unique aspects of emerging economies, such as fragile institutions, strong home government influences, growing entrepreneurship, and scarce technological and managerial resources (Deng et al., 2020; Shi, Sun, Yan and Zhu, 2017).


In addition, with the rise of nationalism and populism worldwide (Alvarez and Rangan, 2019; Witt, 2019), the above-mentioned differences intensify a variety of conflicting, yet intertwined forces (e.g., income inequality within societies) globally and locally, reflecting how nationalism and globalization are inherently paradoxical tensions due to their oppositions and their interdependencies (Schad et al., 2016). In a world with strengthening states, raising nationalism, and multi-polarization, the theoretical assumptions on governance, power, accountability, and competition dynamics in an interconnected and interdependent world merit greater research and understanding. Therefore, we believe that this is an opportune time to leverage the problematization approach for novel theory development on globalization by challenging the traditional assumptions which can in turn lead to the development of alternative explanations.


We aspire to integrate and go beyond prior views of globalization in the literature of management and organization studies. In essence, we welcome the development of ideas and concepts which may underlie, complement, and challenge other theoretical approaches and viewpoints in the relevant literature, for “understanding how to work with theoretical contradictions and oppositions” (Poole and Van de Ven, 1989: 563). By embracing complexity, holistic, and dynamics and applying paradox as a mean to theorize (De Keyer, Guiette and Vendenbempt, 2019; Smith and Lewis, 2011), we believe a problematization approach could open the new directions in theorizing.


Specific Focus of the Special Issue

Given the multidisciplinary nature of globalization-related research, we invite review manuscripts from various scholarly domains including, but not limited to, political science, economics, psychology, sociology, and business and management areas such as finance, marketing, organizational behaviour, strategy, and international business, among others. We welcome a problematization approach on theory development to enrich and deepen our understanding of globalization in the interconnected world. 


Papers for this special issue may include but are not limited to the following review topics and questions:


  1. How do MNEs respond to the new normal of globalization or de-globalization?
  1. How do MNEs update their entry-related strategic decisions such as the drivers, mode, timing, location, and partner selection under de-globalization?
  2. How do MNEs renew strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate political activity (CPA) under de-globalization?
  3. How do MNEs build new governance and institutions in responses to climate change, environmental crisis, and global emergencies (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic)?


  1. How does a new multi-polar world affect firm behaviour and sustainability?
  1. How does the emergence of power blocs affect MNEs’ business strategies and social actions in both home and host societies?
  2. What is the trend of decoupling under trade wars or after the COVID-19 pandemic? What affects the global value chain of a world of multi-polar innovations?
  3. How does the globalization of digital technology affect a firm’s innovation and value co-creation?


  1. EMFs
  1. How do EMFs meet stakeholders’ multiple (and often complicating) interests and co-create with them?
  2. How do EMFs achieve the challenging outcome of simultaneously satisfying multiple and often conflicting priorities and goals?
  3. How do EMFs change their strategies related to intellectual property right (IPR) and reverse knowledge transfer in the trade war?
  4. How do EMFs catch up and innovate in global value chains?


  1. Inclusive organization, inclusive growth and globalization
    1. What are the characteristics of inclusive organizations under globalization? How do inclusive organizations create, operate, and perform?
    2. How are inclusive business models (e.g., microfinance model) diffused globally, regionally, and locally?
    3. What are firms’ strategies on inclusive growth and poverty alleviation? How do firms develop social innovation? How do firms work with the international agencies (e.g., United Nations), local governments, NGOs (e.g. Kiva.org) at the bottom of pyramid?
    4. How are firms shaped by their situation in both local and transnational social spaces and mediated by multi-layered political processes of intra-firm competition and inter-organization relationships

Paper Submission Information 

Manuscripts should follow the Author Guidelines set out by the International Journal of Management Reviews available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/page/journal/14682370/homepage/forauthors.html

Additionally see also:

Jones O. & Gatrell C. (2014). Editorial: The Future of Writing and Reviewing for IJMR. International Journal of Management Reviews, 16, pp. 249-264. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12038

Gatrell C. & Breslin D. (2017). Editors’ Statement. International Journal of Management Reviews, 19, p. 3. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12133

Breslin D., Gatrell C. & Bailey K. (2020). Developing Insights through Reviews: Reflecting on the 20th Anniversary of the International Journal of Management Reviews. International Journal of Management Reviews, 20, pp. 3-9. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12219

Manuscripts should be submitted online at https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ijmr highlighting that you wish to be considered for the Special Issue ‘Problematization of Theory Development’.

Further information can be accessed via the following link - /sites/bam.ac.uk/files/IJMR%20Problematization%20of%20Theory%20Development%20SI%20Call%20for%20Papers.pdf