Research Methods for International Business Management

International business management is an essential area in the modern-day when many companies are moving their businesses to the global operating sphere. Managers in such businesses should understand the challenges inherent in the international business environment to implement effective mechanisms to address them and achieve success. Managers in a global business environment should comprehend the importance of research to inform their operations. Besides, they should use relevant research methodologies to collect and analyze relevant data to address a particular aspect of international business management. They should also use relevant knowledge to establish the research methodology used to collect information in a research article. Notably, an article review is one of the most effective methods to assess research methodologies.

Researchers should understand specific issues that inform the analysis of evidence in international business management. The information is important to determine the method for collecting and analyzing data. The research methodology is one of the critical issues to consider when analyzing data to address problems and answer questions in international business management. The reviewer should determine whether the researcher used a qualitative or quantitative approach depending on the purpose and objective of the study. The context of the study also determines the methodology. A qualitative approach is the most suitable data analysis procedure for understanding various aspects of international business from a leadership perspective. The method is useful because it provides subjective means to generate and use data to inform decisions in international business. The technique would be valuable in future research to collect and analyze data in various aspects of global business operations and management. It provides compelling narratives to managers and other researchers to make relevant decisions.

Various methodological journals report research findings on international business management and operations topics. They focus on the methods used to collect data from various stakeholders in global business management.

Researchers strive to understand the applicability of methodologies in their studies. Grimaldi, Cricelli, and Rogo (2012) conducted methodological research to assess communities’ innovation capability and enhance the value-creation process. In such a review, the decision was based on the methodology to identify the characteristics, influence, and association between the elements of intellectual capital and assess the innovative performance of these elements. The complexity of the study requires a collaborative attempt to create a practical methodology to achieve the purpose of the study. Grimaldi, Cricelli, and Rogo (2012) used a methodology defined in collaboration with academic researchers, experienced consultants, and community managers. The findings of the study revealed the efficacy of the methodology used in the study. The study was effective using a qualitative methodology because of the nature of the involved data, the quantity (stock), and the quality (flows) of the elements of innovation capability. The necessary data was numerical, making a qualitative methodology highly effective in collecting data to achieve its purpose. The approach matched the type of data analysis because it focused on subjective characteristics.

Other researchers focus on specific research methodologies to establish the feasibility of their studies. Nyberg and Sewell (2014) conducted an ethnographic study to evaluate the differences in employee reactions to managerial control in their organizations. The researchers based their work on previous discussions relating to organizational settings. They established reactions that exist between implacable resistance and supine acquiescence. They based their methodology on the research by Edwards et al. to establish the level of compromise in the workplace associated with managerial control. An ethnographic study is relevant for such a study because it allows the researcher to live the participants’ experiences to collect relevant data. For example, in such a review, it would be necessary for the researcher to observe employees’ reactions to qualify the data collected using other methods, such as interviews. The methodology was relevant to the purpose of the study.

Studies are conducted using qualitative methodologies to inform the researcher’s thoughts regarding a particular issue in international business management. Therefore, the data analysis approach should align with the researcher’s philosophy. Qualitative studies integrate the researcher into the research process. The article by Poulis, Poulis, and Plakoyiannaki (2013) focuses on the use of qualitative methodology in international business research. The article considers the appropriateness of the methodology to inform the choice of qualitative case studies in international business research. The authors integrated methodological devices that matched the predominant principle of purposeful sampling. It includes the challenges that researchers face when conducting case studies in the international business arena.

Others conduct their research to determine the applicability of different research methodologies, such as qualitative vs. quantitative or mixed methods. Rana and Sharma (2016) conducted a methodological analysis to establish the most effective research designs and analytical methods relevant to studies in international marketing. They focused on the methodological trends that help to determine a generalized conceptual framework for studies in this field. They reviewed previous qualitative papers related to methodologies in international marketing. They established the use of both qualitative and quantitative research in this area. The nature of the study determines the relevance of the method. The nature of the data informed the choice of the mixed approach necessary to achieve the purpose of the study in international marketing.

Various researchers have published their studies in international business management in empirical journals. Empirical studies reveal that researchers select their methodologies depending on the nature of the data they want to use to inform their research problem. For example, Campbell, Sirmon, and Schijven (2015) chose a relevant methodology to collect data to establish the factors that affect investment decisions in mergers and acquisitions. Investors tend to evaluate their decisions to invest in M&As. They consider the configurations of factors that affect the negative or positive reactions to such internationalization decisions. Campbell, Sirmon, and Schijven (2015) collected their data using quantitative tools to understand the variables that affect investment decisions. They collected narrative data across major industry sectors, such as manufacturing, financial, trade, services, and natural resources. For example, they collected data to establish the performance of stocks in international M&As from the investor’s point of view. The data collection method was relevant to the research and the nature of the data required to achieve the study objective and answer the research question. They also collected qualitative data to provide objective findings regarding decision-making in international business investments.

Studies that focus on understanding the feelings or emotions of the subjects are better to perform using a qualitative methodology because they collect data from a personal perspective. The study by Hassett, Reynolds and Sandberg (2018) conducted a study to establish the emotions of top managers about mergers and acquisitions. The focus was on the feelings and emotions among stakeholders in the acquired company and the factors that triggered them after the acquisition. The researchers used a longitudinal, single case study based on cognitive appraisal and a-active event theoretical frameworks. The study focused on the subjective feelings and emotions of the subjects in the case study, which made a qualitative methodology appropriate for the study. The methodology was relevant to the findings, which revealed that top managers and other key players in the acquired company experience various positive and negative emotions triggered by factors at the personal and organizational levels.

Research to establish the perspective of the subjects is conducted effectively using qualitative methodology. Nielsen and Thomsen (2009) conducted their study to establish the representation of small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) managers in corporate social responsibility and related communications in their organizations. They focused on the strategic nature of CSR communication in SMEs. Since they wanted to establish the perceptions of SME managers about the topic, qualitative data was the most relevant methodology for the study. They interviewed three managers in Danish SMEs to achieve the study’s objective. The study’s findings delved into the managers’ inner perceptions regarding the idea of CSR in their companies. The methodology was critical in providing the data to answer the qualitative research question and achieve the overall purpose of the research. The methodology also affirmed the ethical nature of the study relating to CSR. It was aimed at establishing the view of managers regarding the moral topic of CSR.

Leader humility is a subjective construct that can be understood better using data in the form of narratives; Owens and Hekman (2012) conducted their study to establish the potential impact of leader humility on the effectiveness of an organization. The researchers conducted their study using qualitative interviews with leaders from different contexts. They focused on developing a model of leaders’ behavior, outcomes, and eventualities of humility in leadership. Behavior is a subjective construct and differs from one person to another. Thus, data to understand the construct would be qualitatively collected and analyzed. The data was also relevant in determining the connection between leadership humility with other leadership issues, such as leader-follower connections, organizational change and development, innovative ways of engaging followers, and leadership approaches. Using a qualitative interview provided strong evidence of the association between the leader’s humility and organizational effectiveness.

Further studies have focused on ethical business operations, which requires the use of an appropriate research methodology. Paterson and Huang (2018) conducted a similar study to Owens and Hekman (2012), seeking to understand the role of leaders’ ethical behaviors in the moral behavior of their followers. They performed a field study using a sample of 68 supervisors and 394 employees. They conducted their study using a qualitative model to establish the relationship between the behavior of leaders and that of managers. Since behavior is a subjective construct, it was necessary to conduct a study using the qualitative methodology. The approach would assist the researchers in exploring behaviors to achieve the comparative objective. The model provides important lessons relating to the ethical behaviors of leaders in business settings.

Researchers use various types of data collection methods for qualitative studies. Gustafsson and Swart (2019) used a narrative approach and verbal and visual explanations to evaluate how managers in organizations made promotion decisions. Although numerical data might inform such decisions, they are mostly narratives, which can be explained better using qualitative analysis to give details and explain the motivations behind such decisions. The methodology was relevant for developing an emotion-based understanding of promotion decisions. People have emotional experiences that can only be explained using data collected and analyzed qualitatively. The strength of blending various qualitative data collection methods emanates from the fact that the researcher can take advantage of the strengths of each. However, the researcher should understand how the approaches complement each other to avoid limitations.

Most of the studies whose methodologies are reviewed in the current study used a qualitative approach to data collection. The articles revealed that the study’s purpose or objective influenced the research methodology used to collect and analyze data. For example, some of the studies explored emotions, feelings, and decision-making, which are subjective constructs and were more effectively studied using qualitative data. Besides, the context of the study also informed the methodology. Many of the studies were conducted using case studies of relevant organizations. In such studies, it was sufficient to conduct qualitative case studies using interviews and observations to collect relevant data. The approaches of the data analysis matched the type of data that the researchers collected. The procedures effectively collected relevant data to solve problems in international business management and answer particular research questions.



Campbell JT, Sirmon DG & Schijven M, 2016, ‘Fuzzy logic and the market: a configurational approach to investor perceptions of acquisition announcements’, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 163-187.

Grimaldi M, Cricelli L & Rogo F, 2012, ‘A methodology to assess value creation in communities of innovation’, Journal of Intellectual Capital, vol. 13, no. 3, pp.305-330.

Gustafsson S & Swart J 2019, ‘It’s not all it’s cracked up to be: narratives of promotions in elite professional careers’, Human Relations, vol. 1, pp. 1-27.

Hassett ME, Reynolds NS & Sandberg B, 2018, ‘The emotions of top managers and key persons in cross-border M&As: Evidence from a longitudinal case study’, International Business Review, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 737-754.

Nielsen AE & Thomsen C, 2009, ‘Investigating CSR communication in SMEs: a case study among Danish middle managers’, Business ethics: A European Review, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 83-93.

Nyberg D & Sewell G, 2014, ‘Collaboration, co-operation or collusion? Contrasting employee responses to managerial control in three call centres’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 308-332.

Owens BP & Hekman DR, 2012, ‘Modeling how to grow: an inductive examination of humble leader behaviors, contingencies, and outcomes’, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 55, no. 4, pp. 787-818.

Paterson TA & Huang L, 2018, ‘Am I expected to be ethical? A role-definition perspective of ethical leadership and unethical behavior’, Journal of Management, p.0149206318771166.

Poulis K, Poulis E & Plakoyiannaki, ME 2013, ‘The role of context in case study selection: an international business perspective’, International Business Review, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 304-314.

Rana, S & Sharma SK, 2016, ‘A review on the state of methodological trends in international marketing literature’, Journal for Global Business Advancement, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 90-107.

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