Unbundling the Construct of Firm-Level International Competitiveness: A Conceptual Framework

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework for positioning the research contributions on the analysis of firm-level international competitiveness and addressing the key issues on this topic. Design/methodology/approach – Linking the concepts of internationalization, performance, and firm-level competitiveness, the paper proposes a framework for identifying the different dimensions of international competitiveness. Literature on each dimension is reviewed and the linkages between them are discussed. Findings – The paper unbundles the construct of international competitiveness into three dimensions: “ex ante” competitiveness, relating to firm- and location-specific advantages as drivers of competitiveness; firm internationalization profile, resulting from the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of a firm’s presence abroad; “ex post” competitiveness, relating to market, financial and nonfinancial performance of a firm in foreign markets. Originality/value – Although the analysis of international competitiveness benefits from contributions from different research streams such as international business, marketing, and strategic management, the lack of an organizing framework makes it difficult to “handle” within a potentially huge body of literature. This paper contributes to fill this gap. In addition, it provides the basis for a new research agenda about the analysis of the internationalization-performance relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-331
Number of pages21
JournalMultinational Business Review
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Competitive strategy
  • Firm-specific advantages
  • International business
  • International competitiveness
  • Internationalization
  • Location-specific advantages


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