Anna Jonsson

Learning how to internationalize in practice - a case study of how local national firms acquire large multinational firms

While there are many examples of large multinational enterprises (MNEs) that have acquired local, national, firms in markets where they want to enter or further expand, there is less research focusing on how local, national, firms choose to acquire large MNEs as a strategy for internationalization. This research proposal focus attention to the emergent perspective of how emerging market (EM) enterprises have chosen to internationalize through acquiring existing internationalized firms. Well-known examples in Sweden are Geely's acquisition of Volvo Cars and NEVS acquisition of SAAB Automobile. While research has illustrated why EM MNEs choose acquisition as method for asset-seeking less focus is on how how knowledge is shared between the new owner and the acquired firm. Many EM MNEs explicitly express that they go abroad to learn and not the opposite, which is a phenomenon that has not been extensively studied. The aim of this project is to develop an understanding of how EM MNEs learn to internationalize by focusing on how knowledge is shared in practice and the dynamic learning process of acquiring an existing internationalized firm. The project takes an ethnographic approach and a longitudinal qualitative case study will be carried out during three years. The research project will contribute with insights on what role EM MNEs play in a global environment and the challenges, as well as opportunities, for existing internationalized firms.
Final report

"Learning how to internationalize in practice - a case study of how local national firms acquire large multinational firms"

The purpose and development of the project during the project period

The purpose of this project (P14-0774: 1) has been to develop an understanding of how companies from developing countries, such as China, choose and learn to internationalize their business by acquiring existing multinational companies (MNCs). More specifically, I have been interested in understanding the learning processes that arise between the new owner and the acquired company.

While there are many examples of large multinational companies that have acquired local, national, companies in markets that they want to enter or continue to expand, there are significantly fewer examples of how local, national companies choose to acquire large MNCs as an internationalization strategy. Recently, however, these examples have become more and more, and we see more direct investments of that kind than we did ten to fifteen years ago (e.g. Rottig and de Oliveira, 2019). Well-known examples in Sweden are, for example, the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (ZGH) purchase of Volvo Cars Corporation (VCC) and NEVS purchase of SAAB Automobil.

Although research has shown why these companies choose acquisitions as a method and strategy for internationalizing their operations, in order to gain access to the knowledge and experience that the existing multinational companies have (e.g. Buckely et al, 2008; Yamakawa et al, 2008 ), we need to better understand how knowledge and learning is transferred between the new owner and the acquired company (e.g. Lahiri, 2011; Peng et al, 2010). This is not least important because Peng (2012: 100) stress that several of these companies also explicitly state that they are interested in learning from the acquired companies. From a research perspective, the interest in the learning process is particularly interesting, as it is a different way of expressing the motive for a purchase or a direct investment. From a Western perspective, and in how buying and direct investments have so far been discussed, it has rather been about acquiring specific knowledge. But as Peng points out, this is about another kind of mentality and instead of an “I'll tell you what to do”, which characterizes the traditional multinational companies from developed countries, these “new” EMNCs (emerging market multinational corporations) are instead interested in learning from the acquired multinational companies. It is in itself an expression of learning and interest in knowledge as a process, as more than knowledge and technology transfer and a static and structuralist view of knowledge.

By focusing on how knowledge is transferred in practice and how the learning process is expressed in this type of acquisition, this research project contributes to the understanding of how these companies learn to internationalize their business. Research questions that have guided the study are:

• How is knowledge transferred in practice between the acquiring company and the acquired multinational company? Who learns from whom, and what?
• How does learning and learning processes develop over time and for what reasons?
• What enables, or hinders, knowledge transfer and learning between the acquiring company and the acquired multinational company?
• How does the power relationship look like between the acquiring company and the acquired multinational company, and how does this affect the development of knowledge? And, what is the motivation for sharing knowledge from the acquired multinational company to the acquiring company - and vice versa.

For four years, I have followed the development and learning of ZGH, and above all the learning between VCC and ZGH. It has been interesting to follow how a Chinese company, which at the time of the acquisition could get to know, in just 10 years has grown - through expansion, new establishments and further acquisitions - to a global and well-known company. The media reporting also reflects the development, from having initially dealt with how the Chinese company would probably destroy Volvo - one of our Swedish holy cows - and drain it on technology and intellectual capital, to write up a success story about investments in Western Sweden and growing sales and brand awareness not only for Geely but also Volvo (Mannheimer Swartling 2016, p. 16).

On March 29, 2010, ZGH, which had primarily operated on the Chinese market (with the exception of some exports), became a global company through the acquisition of VCC. Part of ZGH's globalization strategy was then to develop the collaboration between Geely Auto (GA) and VCC, or as expressed in a corporate presentation in 2013 “[...] The synergy between GA and VCC is critical to building competence and future success for both brands”, and in order to do that, they planned for different activities to“ learn from each other ”. My interest in ZGH emerged while China Europe Vehicle Technology (CEVT) was formed, and was placed in Gothenburg. Then it was described as a collaboration between VCC and GA in order to develop a common platform for future cars, a description that has partly been changed over time as a result of restructuring, new establishments and new acquisitions. What was particularly interesting from a research perspective was that it was here that much of the learning would happen, which I understood as a platform for learning. And in a company presentation about CEVT, it was described that the newly started company will increase both GA and VCC's competitiveness through “the right skills, willingness to learn, and the use of cultural differences by working in teams”, and by “being the bridge for knowledge and technology transfer between VCC and Geely without risking the brands and product development””. Here, 15-20 Chinese employees from GA was supposed to transfer to learn from the Swedish employees by working side by side. But there were more than 15-20 Chinese who were sent to Sweden, and in a short time CEVT grew from a small development office to a company with more than 1000 employees both in Sweden and in China.

The development of both CEVT, as well as VCC and GA - not to mention ZGH, through the acquisition of, for example, London Taxi Company, Proton, Lotus and Terrafuga - has been great and fast. Sales as well as brand awareness for both GA and VCC have increased. In addition, a new brand - Lync CO - has been established in China, and will soon be established in Europe as well. The number of activities - and opportunities - for learning has therefore increased during the project period. ZGH is therefore an interesting case for several reasons, and that reflects why and how learning is an important factor for understanding these EMNCs.

This unique case study has contributed to both empirical and theoretical insights on the role of the “second-wave multinational companies” (in research these actors are also referred to as "dragon multinationals" to reflect the way they internationalize the business, but also to demonstrate the Eastern/Asian origin) play in a global environment - and what challenges, but also opportunities, it means for existing multinational companies in developed countries in the west.

Chinese direct investments are no longer unique, single, phenomena - although it still seems in Sweden on the number of opinion and news articles. As part of Xi Jingping’s reform package, Chinese direct investments have increased. Investments have also shifted focus and more and more investments follow the logic and interest in learning from the acquired companies’ ability to learn, where Swedish companies are particularly characterized as learning organizations and with a good innovation ability (jmf Jonsson, 2013).

From the fact that few seem to be interested in Chinese direct investments, the discussion has, in a short time, sailed up as an important point on the agenda among EU heads of state and government. In this way, the project can say that it has evolved from contributing insights at company level even at national level. It is important to develop our understanding of how these companies internationalize in practice, and how and if the existing internationalization process for the acquired multinational companies will take a new direction. In order not to miss out on the learning opportunity given by a new owner being interested in learning about learning, the companies that are the subject of this interest need to ask themselves how they can learn to develop and refine what is considered valuable to invest in - that is, the knowledge and ability to learn. The more we learn from those who want to learn from and about us, the more valuable we become. In order to ensure that a country like Sweden can continue to be a leading innovation country, we cannot afford to be naive; the learning process needs to be taken more seriously. It may also be worth reflecting on how the idea of a sustainable global society should work if we do not demand mutual learning, or take the opportunity to influence other people's learning through our own learning.

Briefly about the implementation

To meet the purpose of my research project, I have adopted an ethnographic approach and conducted a longitudinal qualitative case study for four years. My research study also contributes to research that specifically calls for more in-depth case studies based on practice (e.g. Gherardi, 2009; Barley and Kunda, 2001), and especially in the field of research for internationalization and international business (e.g. Birkinshaw et al. 2011; Deng, 2013). As Doz (2011, p. 588) suggests, qualitative research methods offer the opportunity to move the field forward, and Hurmenrinta-Peltomäki and Nummela (2006, p. 440) write that for such a multifaceted research area on internationalization and international business - which spans both national and cultural, as organizational and personal boundaries - it is particularly important to have a broad approach.

The research project’s implementation can best be described through three phases for learning - and which also reflects in my understanding of how learning has developed within ZGH, as described in my forthcoming book “Unleashing the tiger, unleashing learning: The story about Zhejiang Geely's acquistion of Volvo Cars”. The implementation deviates from the original research plan due to initial difficulties with access, but has at the same time contributed to a greater understanding of the study object (and the complexity that companies in the automotive industry are facing) and partly to the learning processes that took place within the ZGH during these four years. The story is important to convey because it contributes to the explanation of how I have been able to find the lessons I have been able to do from my study.

Phase 1 - Learning about learning within the VCC:

Although the project was well established in connection with the research application, I initially encountered difficulties in getting the access I needed to be able to meet my purpose. The explanation for why the conditions were changed was partly due to the fact that there was some restructuring and that the time was limited to be able to get involved in a research project. It is of course fully understandable that a company facing major challenges does not feel that there is time to set aside time and people to be part of a research study, while at the same time it is probably valuable to get their business analyzed from a different perspective for that reason. But since I had, during a study visit to ZGH's head office and a meeting with the PR manager, together with my then colleagues at the School of Economics in Gothenburg, picked up their - and especially Li Shufus - interest in learning about Volvo’s learning, I decided to be stubborn and persist in my interest in ZGH and VCC. The alternative would have been to approach NEVS about their acquisition of SAAB, but since I could not really read out an interest in learning in the external information or in the small media coverage about the purchase that was then available, I decided to see if I could find others ways into VCC. My first year was therefore much about trying to get to know people who either worked at VCC or had a contact into the company. I also spent a lot of time reading the information that was available, and trying to understand both the automotive industry and Volvo's history and culture – the Volvo spirit. The person who had initially shown an interest in my research project, and my previous research on knowledge transfer and learning within IKEA and Mannheimer Swartling, became my informant. We spent a lot of time together and I got the necessary background for the acquisition and how it had been received by employees at VCC, as well as understanding why I was met with a certain lack of interest in the issue of learning. Thanks to my informant, I came in contact with some people at different positions within companies, and some people outside the company. One of these interviews led, after a little more than a year’s attempt to approach the company, to a contact at VCC in China. The reason for why this person offered their personal contacts was that they meant that VCC in Sweden needs to focus more on the issue of learning, and partly to think about how and why ZGH wants to learn about VCC's learning partly to reflect on how and if the motivation to learn was as explicit within VCC as it was within ZGH and GA. In retrospect, according to my interpretation, this can be seen as a sign of the Volvo spirit that many of the experienced employees within VCC have expressed in the interviews; a willingness to learn and constantly improve and develop new products and solutions.

During one week, I conducted 12 interviews at VCC’s office outside Shanghai, where I was able to combine my interviews with observations. The curiosity about my study spread among the Swedes in the office, and I had the chance to do more interviews than I had initially been promised. Two of these interviews later led me to further contacts, former VCC employees who now worked for CEVT. During this period, I conducted a total of 24 interviews.

Phase 2 - Learning about learning within CEVT:

CEVT, which at this time had grown from what was initially supposed to be a smaller development office - with the aim of developing a new platform that both VCC and GA could use for their future car models - had grown and gained additional information and responsibility. Due to the rapid expansion, but also a clearer connection to GA and ZGH, a number of people had been commissioned to improve the internal learning processes. Here I therefore was met with great interest for my research project, and I got a lot of interview time and the opportunity to make observations and be in the office in Gothenburg. I also had the opportunity to accompany one of the managers in the management team on a trip to China. During this journey, the understanding emerged as to whether the mission for CEVT, and partly the relations between the companies within ZGH.

During my week in China, I not only shadowed and interviewed the manager at CEVT, I also had the opportunity to make observations at the various offices and facilities we visited. During this trip I also came in contact with additional people within the ZGH, and additional people offered their contacts and advised on people I should interview. Some people I interviewed several times, and I also got some insight into some internal processes that CEVT worked with at that time in order to learn and improve their processes. During this year, I conducted about 40 interviews and conversations with people at different positions, primarily with Swedish employees.

Towards the end of this phase, I was contacted by my informant at VCC, who referred to a meeting with Li Shufu and where the issue of learning had been brought up. An internal project was initiated on Li Shufus's initiative, where my research project became part of this study and the project now entered a third phase.

Phase 3 - Learning about learning about ZGH:

Within the framework of the internal project where I, my informant and two other persons were included, we had a number of meetings where we partly discussed the purpose and the layout of the study. We decided that, in my role as a researcher, I would conduct interviews with different people at different levels within VCC, GA, CEVT and also at the management level for ZGH. A total of 70 interviews were conducted, of which 35 in Sweden and 35 in China. The interviews in China were conducted over a week’s time, where I traveled with a contact person I was assigned by ZGH – in that way I also got a chance to get to know and talk more informally about not only ZGH but also life in China. I was met with great interest not only the study but also my research project. It was clear that there is a great interest in learning about learning among the people I met in China.

Based on the material I had collected within the framework of the internal study, I wrote with the help of, and discussions with, the responsible group a report on the learning culture within ZGH. The result of this was presented and discussed later in a couple of different contexts, and led, among other things, to a couple of “cultural workshops” in China, together with Swedish and Chinese employees, where we presented our results but also participated in the subsequent conversations and activities. After almost four years of research, it suddenly became “easy” to see the learning within ZGH; the formerly elusive - in interviews and observations - the learning processes now became visible and explicit.

From my previous experience of making an ethnographic study at Mannheimer Swartling, I know that it is important to continuously reflect on observations, not only for the analytical work but also to develop an understanding of how you as a researcher perceive and understand your research context. The latter has been particularly important for this study, and Jack and Westwoods (2006: 495) argue that one should think about how geographical, institutional, historical and cultural aspects affect not only those I study but also myself as a researcher. Reflecting and analyzing my own interpretations, being a researcher raised and educated in Sweden, has been necessary to avoid the danger of seeing and interpreting the material from a Western perspective - or as Werner (2002) and Tsui (2007) designate it; the homogenizing tendency to start from a typical North American approach and which is common in research on internationalization and international business. In line with that, and to increase understanding of knowledge transfer and learning as something beyond the static and structural view by including a process perspective, Becker-Ritterhspach et al (2010) believes that it is important to also include the institutional context and reflect on how it affects the understanding of the learning process. An explanation for the implementation should therefore be seen as an explanation for my results and my understanding of learning within ZGH.

The project’s three most important results and contributions to the international research front, including a reasoning about this

The explanation of implementation above is important because it explains my main contribution with my study - the ability to observe what is in theory called deuteron learning, or the learning of learning!

The purpose of the research project was, as I explained earlier, to contribute to an increased understanding of how companies from developing countries, such as China, choose and learn to internationalize their business by acquiring existing multinational companies (MNCs). By specifically studying the learning processes that arise between the new owner and the acquired company, my study contributes to research on these EMNCs, a research field that sometimes describes these EMNCs as “dragon multinationals” because they take a “spring-board perspective” or goes into a “catch-up process” (eg Mathews, 2006; Luo and Tung, 2007; Ramamurti, 2012). Previous studies have indeed expressed an interest in learning, but to my knowledge no one has so closely had the opportunity to study the learning processes for a long time and also not had the opportunity to participate in the internal work of developing a greater understanding of learning about learning (deutero learning). The reason I have chosen to summarize my lessons in book format is that I believe and hope that there is much to learn from my story; or as Dyer and Wilkins (1991, p. 167) mean in their account why qualitative in-depth studies are valuable and have the opportunity to contribute to not only one but several research fronts - if they have succeeded in describing a phenomenon in a way that others can easily see, then it is the classic stories that others will gladly return to in their own research.

The research project has generated several insights on the role these new EMNCs play in a global environment, and the challenges and opportunities that follow for existing multinational companies. The three main results of the project can be summarized as follows:

1. Understanding how learning processes express the “second wave's internationalization”.

The phenomenon, which is described as “second wave internationalization”, about how local national companies acquire existing multinational companies was, for five years ago, a relatively unexplored topic, at least when it comes to questions about how these EMNCs learn, behave and act in relation to the “first wave internationalization”, i.e the existing multinational companies from the West (Mathews, 2006). The research project therefore contributes to this literature by focusing on behavioral and learning processes. My results also contribute to existing literature in international business that focuses on the behavioral paradigm, with Johanson and Vahlnes (1977) internationalization process as the main model, and which I and Jan-Erik Vahlne also develop in our common paper.

2. New categories and ambitious forms of multinational companies.

Within the framework of the second-wave internationalization, new categories and forms of internationalized companies are emerging. The understanding of internationalization and what is required to conduct international activities is challenged by these new players. The traditional way of looking at an international company with a parent company with subsidiaries in different countries no longer applies, especially to the view of how knowledge flows between the parent company and the subsidiaries (cf. Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1989). In my research study, it is not as clear what role the parent company has, because the various companies within ZGH have relatively great autonomy and act relatively independently. As previous research points out, it appears that these new patterns of globalization not only challenge the current understanding of international business, but also the way to look at and create competitive advantages that come with the acquisition of an existing multinational company (e.g. Sun et al. 2012; Williamson et al, 2013). In line with Luo and Rui's (2009) arguments that these companies seem to be particularly good at also developing some kind of ambidextrous forms (cf. the concept of 'ambidexterity', for a discussion see e.g. Vahlne and Jonsson, 2017), ZGHs various projects for collaboration within the group can also serve as an illustrative example of it. Luo and Rui (2009, p. 51) argue that this has an explanation in the yin-yang philosophy and that interpersonal and inter-organizational relationships are crucial for transactions to take place. In my future paper focusing on CEVT as a learning platform, I develop this reasoning.

3. A new way of looking at global competition - the competitiveness of learning.

In conclusion, the two above-mentioned results contribute to the third result, which can be described as a new way of looking at global competition. Words such as collaboration, co-creation, co-production and even “copying” are central to the understanding of learning within ZGH. Learning is about doing things together and creating synergies, which in itself may not sound like something new but when you look more closely at how this takes place in practice, it becomes clear that it is something more than just adding together different resources in the pursuit of economies of scale and efficiency (which is a constant hunt within the competitive car industry). In my book, I develop this reasoning, in which I also describe Li Shufu's reasoning about how he describes “the new business model” (cf. DI, 2018). In order to meet and lead the transformation from a car industry to an “(auto) mobility industry”, the importance of a global learning culture in particular is emphasized, while at the same time protecting the diversity of different organizational and nation cultures. The old mantra of “one global company - one culture” is thus challenged. My results therefore also contribute to new research on how complementary resources and what contributes to competitiveness, here with particular focus on the automotive industry (see eg Teece, 2019).

These are the three main results from my research project, and that meet both the purpose and the research questions that were stated in my research application. But since my material is extensive, it has naturally generated additional ideas, partly in the form of articles that are to be written partly in the form of new research questions.

New research issues generated through the project

As always, when you have an ethnographic approach, and do qualitative deep studies for a long time, new situations and phenomena arise and thus also new issues. The research questions defined in the project application have been supplemented, for example, so much of my empirical data is about how the silent learning within VCC has been explicitly stated over time. In my book, which explains the choice of title, I reason about how the “Swedish tiger” (as to be compared with the propaganda picture about “En svensk tiger” (“a Swede don’t tell”) from the Second World War encouraging Swedes not talk to the enemy), who were released by their new Chinese owner suddenly began to talk about learning. Because even though there are of course many explanations for both VCC's successes, and also the other companies within ZGH, the interest in learning has been important. It obviously affects the person who is going to do a job of having another person next to him who asks questions about why, or is just present and observing. The person will, consciously or unknowingly, reflect on why different issues were asked or why a certain moment was considered interesting to observe. By reflecting, learning also develops.

Another issue, which is also about the consequence of someone else’s interest in someone’s learning, which has been generated by the project, is about what impact I as a researcher has had by having been present and asked questions, especially since I was initially quite intense in my search for access and people to interview. That I was invited into the project group, which Li Shufu was commissioned to investigate the conditions for a global learning culture within ZGH, I see as a result of my research study, but it also creates questions about how it affects my results. Therefore, I try to take a reflexive approach and reason about this in various method sections (cf. Alvesson, 2003), but for future research it would be interesting to further investigate how ideas from research projects are translated and perhaps developed in the context of the study (cf. Carlile (2004 ) about transferring, translating and developing knowledge, but also Westney and Piekkari (2019) on how ideas are translated over institutional boundaries).

Another method issue, which is also relevant for research that advocates more qualitative research in studies on international business, is about interviews. Although I have done interviews in China before, for my research on IKEA (Jonsson, 2007), and thus have some experience, in this study I have reflected more on the challenges of doing interviews with people with a different institutional background. One reason for this is partly due to the fact that in this research project, Chinese people who wants to learn from Swedes about the complexity that characterizes the international automotive industry, and not as in IKEA’s case that Swedes (or other people with IKEA experience) are to teach Chinese about IKEA. Together with Rebecca Piekkari, I will develop a paper on the difficulty of doing interviews in other countries - and that it is not just about languages. We will problematize, and use Piekkari's previous research (eg Welch et al, 2011 and Westney and Piekkari, 2019), how interviews are translated and how it affects the content and the conclusions we draw.

The initial problems with access have also bothered about why it was so difficult to talk about learning initially, those who I managed to get in touch with wanted to either tell about how it was before and what the cultural difficulties were - or vice versa about the exciting opportunities with a Chinese ownership. It was difficult to find a narrative, and it was difficult to understand how to capture and ask about learning in the interviews. In retrospect, I understand that this has had great significance for my own learning, where I have been forced to challenge myself in the way I ask questions and try to observe something that few initially seemed to think was interesting or relevant to their business. During the follow-up of my project, i-e halfway into the time, I was very much thinking about this issue. I felt stressed and thought that there might not be any results from this project - if I cannot get in touch with the right people or will be able to make a systematic comparative study between the companies within ZGH then I will not be able to draw any conclusions - more than that there was no interest in learning. I then wondered a lot about what it does with a researcher, and what the consequences are for the research (the content, and the conclusions we draw); Is there a risk that we will then abandon the ambition to understand the practice and instead try to confirm our arguments as to why research is needed and thus only try to tick off the pre-formulated research questions? It is in itself a question that connects to the discussion of measurability. These reflections, which I have collected in diary notes, will form the basis of an auto-ethnographic article where I reason about how it affects a pre-designed research study, which one does before a project application, and what happens when reality meets the rational idea of how a research project should be designed. The question I ask myself is whether, you as a researcher try to keep with your plan and make sure to collect data that “fits” with the research plan, or if you dare to allow yourself to see how the project develops. I chose the latter strategy.

The international dimensions of the project

The international dimensions of the project, such as contacts, materials and so on. How the project group has spread the results to other researchers and groups outside the scientific community, and whether and how the collaboration has taken place:

The project has had an international dimension in the sense that it has been the focus of the study. I have been interested in how learning is translated and transferred across geographical as well as organizational boundaries. Four trips to China have been carried out within the framework of the project, where two of these are linked to the internal study on learning that I participated in. The fourth and final journey that was made, including the one within the framework of the internal project, was aimed at presenting the results of the study in connection with various “cultural workshops” arranged between the companies. I also got the opportunity to present the results within the framework of my research project, and at the same time was given a unique opportunity to make observations for my project.

The project can therefore be regarded as an example of collaboration, where as a researcher I have both participated in an internal study and presented and disseminated the results of this - but where I have also had the opportunity to tell about and discuss my results from my research project and which partly lies as basis for the internal study. For me, collaboration is about respecting each other and having an exchange through reflective conversations together, which is only possible if one, as I have had, an independence through a generous research funding. I would therefore like to thank the The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) for the generous research grant.

In spite of initial difficulties with access, I finally got an amazing access and have continued contact with several of those who helped me with my research project and those who offered their time for interviews. I have been a sounding board for one of my informants, in the same way that he has been my sounding board, in his work on writing his book on Volvo's development and history. One of my contacts, I also invited at an internal seminar organized by Mannheimer Swartling for their “friends” (other law firms), with about 100 lawyers from different parts of the world, and where I and my contact talked about the development of ZGH and the view of a global learning culture. Another contact has asked me to participate in a seminar at the Swedish-Chinese Trade Council to tell me about my upcoming book later this fall.

When it comes to external contacts, during the course of the project, I have chosen to keep a low profile for various reasons. Therefore, I have not participated in many scientific conferences. Instead, I have tried to keep myself updated on the research front by studying new articles and books. I have also tried to keep in touch with a number of researchers within the field, and which I now collaborate with on a number of ideas that have come from my material. I see it as another opportunity to collaborate and disseminate information and results about the project, now that the intensive empirical work is completed. I usually try to be active and spread information about my research projects for the time being, both within and outside the scientific community. In order to increase understanding of what research means for society, I think it is important that we researchers tell about what we do and try to participate in debates and other public conversations, which is also part of one of my other research projects on collaboration (FSK15- 1081: 1). In addition to sharing information on research, it offers interesting conversations, which almost always generates new issues and perspectives. In this project I have chosen to downplay this interactive dialogue for two reasons; partly because I did not initially have a formal role as a researcher because of access problems, and partly because I was involved in an internal study after half the project time and thus did not want to create ambiguity about my role and purpose of the study. I felt that this was particularly important as rumors at that time flourished both internally and in the media about different future scenarios for both CEVT and VCC, which contributed to a certain concern among employees. Building relationships requires time and confidence, and to handle the respect I was shown, it has been important for me to show the same kind of trust and respect by keeping a low profile during the project.


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Publication list

Jonsson. A. (forthcoming). Unleashing the tiger, unleashing learning: The story about Zheijang Geely’s acquisition of Volvo Cars. Routledge (Accepted by the editor, and sent for review. To be published in late 2019)

Jonsson, A. & Vahlne, J.E. (forthcoming). The acquisition of the internationalization process model: a case study of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group’s quest for learning. Paper to be submitted to Journal of International Business Studies.

Jonsson, A (forthcoming). A platform for learning: The role of CEVT. Paper to be submitted to Mangement Learning.

Jonsson, A (forthcoming). Research design, or designing research: when rationality meets reality. Paper to be submitted to Organizational Research Methods.

Jonsson, A. & Piekkari, R. (forthcoming) Translating questions and answers across borders: Reflections of conducting qualitative research across national boundaries. Working title for a paper to be developed with Rebecca Piekkari.

Jonsson, A. (forthcoming) Unleashing learning in theory and practice: collaborative learning at work. Contribution to Elkjaer, B. Lotz. M. and Mossfeldt Nickelsen, N. C. (eds) ”Rethinking lifelong learning for the 21st century” (Springer).

Jonsson, A. (2018) Unleashing learning: Towards a collaborative-based view of the global firm – beyond a western perspective. Paper accepted and e presented at the LAEMOS Conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 22-24 March 2018

Jonsson, A. & Vahlne, J-V. (2017) Organizational capability building: a case study of an EMNE’s quest for learning. Paper accepted and presented at the 33rd EGOS Colloquium, Copenhagen, Denmark, 6-8th July 2017.

Jonsson, A. (2017) Dragons with horsepower: Learning from the internationalization of emerging market firms. In Marinova, S. Larimo, J. & Nummela, N. (eds) Value Creation in International Business - Volume 1: An MNC Perspective.

For future publications and posts related to this research project, please visit:

Grant administrator
Lunds universitet
Reference number
SEK 2,588,000.00
Business Administration