Purpose and research questions
Research on international competitiveness has been rigorously researched in the last three decades, as the phenomenon itself was spurred on by the extensive international involvement of multinational enterprises (MNEs). While strong firm- and subsidiary-specific advantages enhance MNEs’ international competitiveness, they should consider host country/region competitiveness, as well as home country competitiveness, for their success in internationalization (Rugman and D’Cruz, 1994; Rugman et al., 2012). Kolk (2010), in an earlier issue of this journal, illustrated how environmental sustainability issues can affect MNEs’ local, regional and global activities and when sustainability can be an opportunity for the development of firm specific advantages.

While managers, policy makers and the media have acknowledged that environment issues are one of the biggest concerns and challenges of businesses in the future, it is still unclear how environmentally responsible management (ERM) practices can become an additional dimension of firms’ international competitiveness (or firm-specific advantages). It is also unclear how the nation’s interest in regard to the environment enhances or weakens the competitiveness of the nation. For example, the pollution haven hypothesis notes that manufacturing and natural resource extraction firms relocate their operations from developed to less developed countries in order to take advantage of weak environmental regulations (Brunnermeier and Levison, 2004; Madsen, 2009; Jaffe and Palmer, 1997). The pollution haven hypothesis implies that environmentally responsible business practices do not provide international competitiveness as long as firms can find alternative places to locate their operations. On the other hand, an alternative win-win strategy (Porter, 1991; Porter and Van der Linde, 1995; Palmer et al., 1995) underlines the dynamic nature of competition, innovation and customer needs and suggests that properly designed environmental regulations can enhance a country’s competitiveness to promote business and attract good quality investment (Rivera and Oh, 2012). The win-win strategy views environmentally responsible business practices as eventually increasing international competitiveness. Thus, environmentally responsible MNEs do not need to exploit weak environmental regulations of a host country as these MNEs already have strong environmental capabilities (Rugman and Verbeke, 1998).

A recent study (Aguilera-Caracuel et al., 2012) found that corporate environmental practices in a host country depend upon country- and firm-level characteristics. The purpose of this special issue is to provide an avenue for modern competitiveness thinking that focuses on environmental responsibility among the many aspects of corporate social responsibility. We believe that significant opportunities exist for improving our understanding of how ERM affects MNEs’ international competitiveness and, thus, we would like to use these opportunities to advance theories of MNEs. This special issue provides an opportunity through which to bring together the research of scholars from a diverse range of disciplinary traditions, such as international business, strategy, economics, political science, and sociology. As a consequence, we expect that contributors will leverage their own perspectives and training in order to formulate and address novel research questions and hypotheses. We seek both theoretical and empirical papers that may address, but are not limited to, the following list of potential research questions:

How do MNEs transform home-grown ERM practices into international competitiveness?

What are the country- and firm-level boundary conditions of ERM induced international competitiveness?

Do MNEs’ ERM practices function as a catalyst, enhancing international competitiveness and organizational performance in foreign markets?

How do MNEs manage the various needs of ERM in host countries and align MNE- and subsidiary-level ERM practices?

Do environmentally responsible and green firms have advantages in foreign market entry and expansion? Is there any heterogeneity across the level of economic and social developments in a host country and across industries?

Does good corporate image derived from ERM practices play a pivotal role in acquiring local market information and eventually improving organizational competitiveness in international markets?

What motivates ERM practices in foreign markets? Is there any particular relationship between the level of foreign ownership and ERM practices abroad?

How do MNEs adapt themselves to host country ERM practices and regulations over time? What factors retard this adaptation? Does this adaptation increase the MNEs capabilities over their competitors?

Do foreign firms’ advanced environmental capabilities affect a host country’s ERM practices and regulations?

How do MNEs transform environmental capability to firm-specific advantages under the institutional void (i.e. in least developed countries)?

How should we measure environmental capability and performance of MNEs?

Submission Instructions:
The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2013. To learn more about the Multinational Business Review, including style guidelines, please visit the Multinational Business Review web site at:


All submissions will be subject to the regular double-blind peer review process at the Multinational Business Review. The guest editors are seeking reviewers for this issue and are soliciting nominations and volunteers to participate as reviewers. Please contact the guest editors to volunteer or nominate a reviewer.

More information
To obtain additional information, please contact the guest editors:

Chang Hoon Oh, Simon Fraser University (coh@sfu.ca)
Byung Il Park, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (leedspark@hufs.ac.kr)

Aguilera-Caracuel, J., Aragon-Correa, J.A., Hurtado-Torres, N.E. and Rugman, A.M. (2012), ‘‘The effects of institutional distance and headquarters’ financial performance on the generation of environmental standards in multinational companies’’, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 105, pp. 461-74.

Brunnermeier, S.B. and Levison, A. (2004), ‘‘Examining the evidence on environmental regulations and industry location’’, Journal of Environment and Development, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 6-41.

Jaffe, A.B. and Palmer, K. (1997), ‘‘Environmental regulations and innovation: a panel data study’’,Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 79 No. 4, pp. 610-19.

Kolk, A. (2010), ‘‘Social and sustainability dimensions of regionalization and (semi)globalization’’,Multinational Business Review, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 51-72.

Madsen, P.M. (2009), ‘‘Does corporate investment drive a race to the bottom in environmental protection? A reexamination of the effect of environmental regulation on investment’’, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 52 No. 6, pp. 1297-318.

Palmer, K., Oates, W.E. and Portney, P.R. (1995), ‘‘Tightening environmental standards: the benefit-cost of the no-cost paradigm?’’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 119-32.

Porter, M.E. (1991), ‘‘America’s green strategy’’, Scientific American, Vol. 264 No. 4, pp. 168.

Porter, M.E. and van der Linde, C. (1995), ‘‘Toward a new conception of the environment-competitiveness relationship’’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 97-118.

Rivera, J. and Oh, C.H. (2012), ‘‘Environmental regulations and multinational corporations’ foreign market entry investments’’, Policy Studies Journal, forthcoming.

Rugman, A.M. and D’Cruz, J.R. (1993), ‘‘The double diamond model of international competitiveness: the Canadian experience’’, Management International Review, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 17-39.

Rugman, A.M., Oh, C.H. and Lim, D.S.K. (2012), ‘‘The regional and global competitiveness of multinational firms’’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 218-35.

Rugman, A.M. and Verbeke, A. (1998), ‘‘Corporate strategy and international environmental policy’’,Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 819-33.