Long Range Planning & Journal of Digital Economy—Platform Multinationals in the Global Digital Econo

When:  Jan 31, 2024 from 09:00 to 23:59 (ET)
Associated with  Entrepreneurship (ENT)

Long Range Planning(LRP) – Journal of Digital Economy(JDE) Special Issue

Joint Call for Papers

Platform Multinationals (PMNC) in the Global Digital Economy

Submission Deadline: January. 31, 2024

Guest Editors

Ke Rong (Tsinghua University, China, r@tsinghua.edu.cn)

Ronaldo Parente (Florida International University, USA, rcparent@fiu.edu)

Peter Williamson (University of Cambridge, UK, p.williamson@jbs.cam.ac.uk)

Sali Li (University of South Carolina, USA, sali.li@moore.sc.edu )

Xinwei Shi (Capital University of Economics and Business, China, sxw@cueb.edu.cn )

Di Zhou (Tongji University, China, zhoudi@tongji.edu.cn )

Digital transformation is continually driving change in the world as we know it. Multinational companies are being impacted by digital transformation, which has caused extremely rapid changes across the global economy (Rong, 2022), undermining conventional notions about how businesses are structured; how firms interact; and how consumers obtain services, information, and goods. Moreover, in the era of the digital economy, data has become a new key production factor and resource needed to facilitate the digital transformation of multinational companies. With the support of big data, the continuous breakthroughs and applications of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are leading to the emergence of new digital platforms. They are having profound impacts on existing platform business models, such as diverse application platforms driven by ChatGPT, which are currently particularly popular. Thus, when a platform multinational corporation (PMNC) internationalizes, it needs to adapt to the growing interconnectedness of people, organizations, and machines that results from digital transformation in global markets. This new world order is transforming traditional business models and value-creating activities, in turn forcing organizations to transform themselves in order to adapt and develop new processes and platforms to compete in global markets in the era of the digital economy.

The objective of this special issue is to help us better understand the new organizational patterns of PMNCs operating in the digital economy and explore new theories around strategy, platform, business models, and international business theories. Along with the emergence of the digital economy, the platform-based business model is gaining popularity (Bhargava, Kim, & Sun, 2013). The typical organization pattern of a multinational corporation (MNC) is shifting from the traditional supply chain-based MNC toward a PMNC. According to Statista, seven out of the top 10 largest companies by market value – that is, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent), Meta (Facebook’s parent), Tencent, and Alibaba[1] – were PMNCs in 2021. However, these companies still face huge challenges when going abroad. For example, e-commerce giants eBay and Amazon failed in China against local platform competitor Alibaba. Meanwhile, Uber was defeated in both China and Indonesia by local competitors such as Didi and Grab.

International business (IB) theories have focused mainly on traditional multinational corporations and may be inadequate in explaining multinationals’ global strategies and internationalization behaviors in the context of the digital economy (Alcácer, Cantwell, & Piscitello, 2016; Axinn, 2002; Nambisan et al., 2019). Only very recently researchers have begun to examine the internationalization of platforms (Banalieva & Dhanaraj, 2019; Brouthers, Geisser, & Rothlauf, 2016; Chen et al., 2022; Chen, Shaheer, Yi, & Li, 2019; Ojala, Evers, & Rialp, 2018; Parente, Rong, Geleilate, & Misati, 2019; Stallkamp & Schotter, 2019; Zhu & Iansiti, 2019). There is a need to further understand this new organizational pattern of PMNCs, how they globalize, and why they face significant challenges in competing with local platform competitors.

In this special issue, we are interested in research that examines the new phenomena and IB theories related to PMNCs operating in the digital economy. Some illustrative research themes covered by this special issue are presented below:

1)     Platform theory and ecosystem theory

For platforms, the network effect that results from the interaction of the supply and demand sides of the market matters. The stronger this network effect, the more easily the platform will scale up (Evans, 2009; Katz & Shapiro, 1985; Zhu & Iansiti, 2012). The key in the platform economy is to foster determinants such as product/service quality and strong social network ties that enhance the network effect. For PMNCs, the geographical scope of the network has been expanded, so the determinants of the cross-country network effect should be explored further (Stallkamp & Schotter, 2019). Also, Platforms can expand the network effect not only based on the interaction of the supply and demand sides of the market, but to other complementary stakeholders in the form of an ecosystem (Ceccagnoli, Forman, Huang, & Wu, 2012; Moore, 1993; Rong, Zhou, Shi, & Huang, 2022). As data become an important resource, platforms are also building data-based ecosystems to further strengthen their global competitiveness (DalleMule and Davenport, 2017). How can PMNCs build up ecosystems in order to successfully adapt and compete in foreign markets is a topic worth exploring (Nambisan et al., 2019; Parente, Rong, Geleilate, & Misati, 2019; Rong, Wu, Shi, & Guo, 2015)?

2)     Platform business model of MNC

Researchers have long examined MNCs’ business model by understanding its value creation, value delivery and value appropriation (business model reference, from Long Range Planning, Zott Amit, Charles Baden Fuller, Alex Osterwalder, David Teece). With the globalization and catching-up of emerging countries, emerging-market MNC (EMNC) has become a new branch of research (Gugler, 2017; Hennart, 2012; Luo & Tung, 2007; Rugman & Verbeke, 2004; Santos & Williamson, 2015). Besides, AI and machine learning technologies are now more widely adopted by the MNCs than at any other time. These novel digital technologies are reshaping platform business models (Garbuio and Lin, 2019) and may even pose a threat to existing PMNCs. Recently, digitalization has been transforming traditional industries and boosting global innovation, while providing new opportunities for emerging markets. However, both extant EMNC and digital economy studies fail to fully explore MNCs with platform business models, which may call for the theory of business model to be revisited.

3)     Born global (BG) firms and entry mode

Born global (BG) firms are firms that, almost from their inception, develop their activities in multiple countries (Knight & Cavusgil, 2004; Brouthers, Chen, Li, & Shaheer, 2022). Research has found that born global firms require competitive advantages, including technology, learning capability, innovative culture, social networks, alliances, etc., in order to achieve global success (Chetty & Campbell-Hunt, 2004; Freeman, Edwards, & Schroder, 2006; Knight & Cavusgil, 2004; Shaheer & Li, 2020; Shaheer, Li, & Priem, 2020). Many PMNCs can follow a born-global strategy (Gabrielsson, 2011; Zhou, Wu, & Luo, 2007) because they can scale up even more quickly and easily than traditional born-global companies. These PMNCs typically have lighter asset bases and rely heavily on ICT technology to serve their markets. So how can the study of PMNCs contribute to BG theories, as well as to theories seeking to explain the choice of entry mode? Do they follow the traditional internationalization models to access and integrate global resources that we observe in traditional BG firms (Weerawardena, Mort, Liesch, & Knight, 2007)? Or do they simply replicate their successful business models in foreign markets?

4)     Liability of foreignness (LOF) and institution theory

Based on lower operating costs and faster diffusion, we believe PMNCs can scale up easily in host countries. However, PMNCs in many sectors, including e-business, ridesharing, and social messaging, have failed when entering host countries. What are the causes behind these failures? Are these special cases or new norms of these PMNCs? It has been argued that MNCs will be faced with liabilities of foreignness (LOFs) when operating abroad because of the unfamiliarity of the business, institutional, and cultural environment (Zaheer, 1995; Li et al., 2022). However, the LOFs faced by PMNCs have rarely been examined. Do PMNCs face different types of LOFs? Do these LOFs come from formal or informal institutions? For PMNCs, do the network effects in their platforms magnify the negative impacts of LOFs?

5)     Firm-specific advantages and local integration

Firm-specific advantages (FSAs) are necessary for MNCs to overcome the liability of foreignness when expanding into foreign markets (Buckley & Casson, 1976; Caves, 1996; Dunning, 1977; Rugman, 1981). However, location-bound FSAs have limited transferability and can be transferred and deployed only in certain types of locations (Rugman & Verbeke, 2003; Rugman & Verbeke, 1992). Moreover, as platforms are evolving towards platform ecosystems, ecosystem-specific advantages (ESAs) are also becoming more and more important (Li et al., 2019; Rong et al., 2022). For PMNCs, the transferability of their FSAs or ESAs and the antecedents of their location boundedness remains unclear. Many PMNCs seem to succeed in their home countries because they are highly integrated into their domestic environments. Hence, the theory of liability of ecosystem integration (LOEI) is proposed to demonstrate such challenges to the globalization of platform companies (Rong et.al 2022). How does their local performance underpin global competitive advantages for these PMNCs?

Potential Research Questions

·     What business model benchmarks should we use in analysing PMNCs?

·     What influence will AI bring on the business model innovation of PMNCs?

·     What are the antecedents of PMNCs’ competitive advantages, and why are some location-bound?

·     How does local integration and performance in the home country impact the global competitiveness of PMNCs?

·     What are the determinants of the cross-country network effects for PMNCs?

·     What ecosystems surround the PMNCs, and what is the role of data?

·     How do the ecosystem stakeholders support PMNCs’ globalization?

·     How do data resources influence the global competition of PMNCs?

·     How do PMNCs maintain their relationships with complementors, suppliers, and customers in the platform ecosystem?

·     What distinguishes the PMNC? How is it different from the traditional MNC?

·     What are the key success factors for PMNCs?

·     How do PMNCs build and maintain their competitive advantages?

·     What are the entry modes used by PMNCs?

·     How do PMNCs differ from traditional born global firms?

·     How can an understanding of PMNCs’ globalization contribute to the extension of IB theories?

·     How do PMNCs overcome the liability of ecosystem integration (LOEI)?

·     How do AI technologies (such as ChatGPT) impact the PMNCs’ business development and governance globally?

·     How do AI technologies contribute to the extension of IB theories?

·     Why do PMNCs have particular difficulty competing in some markets, such as China and India?

·     How do formal and informal institutional distances influence PMNCs’ performance?

·     How does interaction between formal and informal institutions influence PMNCs globalization?

Deadlines and Submission Instructions

The submission systems of these two journals are open at 1st July 2023 separately and the deadline for submission of papers is Jan 31, 2024. The expected publication is early 2025. More information on the special issue as well as guidelines for authors appear at the LRP and JDE website.

Long Range Planning


Journal of Digital Economy


Review Process

Papers will be reviewed following the regular Long Range Planning and Journal of Digital Economy double-blind review process separately.


Abernathy, W. J. & Clark, K. B. 1985. Innovation: Mapping the winds of creative destruction. Research policy, 14(1): 3-22.

Alcácer, J., Cantwell, J., & Piscitello, L. 2016. Internationalization in the information age: A new era for places, firms, and international business networks? Journal of International Business Studies, 47(5): 499-512.

Axinn, C. N., & Matthyssens, P. 2002. Limits of internationalization theories in an unlimited world. International Marketing Review, 19(5): 436-49.

Banalieva, E. R. & Dhanaraj, C. 2019. Internalization theory for the digital economy. Journal of International Business Studies.

Bhargava, H. K., Kim, B. C., & Sun, D. 2013. Commercialization of Platform Technologies: Launch Timing and Versioning Strategy. Production & Operations Management, 22(6): 1374-88.

Brouthers, K.D., Chen, L., Li, S. and Shaheer, N., 2022. Charting new courses to enter foreign markets: Conceptualization, theoretical framework, and research directions on non-traditional entry modes. Journal of International Business Studies, 1-28.

Brouthers, K. D., Geisser, K. D., & Rothlauf, F. 2016. Explaining the internationalization of ibusiness firms. Journal of International Business Studies, 47(5): 513-34.

Buckley, P. J. & Casson, M. 1976. The future of the multinational enterprise. London: Macmillan.

Caves, R. E. 1996. Multinational enterprise and economic analysis: Cambridge university press.

Ceccagnoli, M., Forman, C., Huang, P., & Wu, D. J. 2012. Cocreation of Value in a Platform Ecosystem: The Case of Enterprise Software. MIS Quarterly, 36(1).

Chen, L., Li, S., Wei, J., & Yang, Y. (2022). Externalization in the platform economy: Social platforms and institutions. Journal of International Business Studies, 1-12.

Chen, L., Shaheer, N., Yi, J., & Li, S. 2019. The international penetration of ibusiness firms: Network effects, liabilities of outsidership and country clout. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(2): 172-92.

Chetty, S. & Campbell-Hunt, C. 2004. A Strategic Approach to Internationalization: A Traditional Versus a "Born-Global" Approach. Journal of International Marketing, 12(1): 57-81.

DalleMule, L., & Davenport, T. H. (2017). What’s your data strategy. Harvard Business Review, 95(3), 112-121.

Dunning, J. H. 1977. Trade, location of economic activity and the MNE: A search for an eclectic approach. , The international allocation of economic activity London.: Palgrave Macmillan.

Evans, D. S. 2009. How catalysts ignite: the economics of platform-based start-ups. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, US: Edward Elgar.

Freeman, S., Edwards, R., & Schroder, B. 2006. How Smaller Born-Global Firms Use Networks and Alliances to Overcome Constraints to Rapid Internationalization. Journal of International Marketing, 14(3): 33-63.

Gabrielsson, M., & Gabrielsson, P. . 2011. Internet-based sales channel strategies of born global firms. International Business Review, 20(1): 88-99.

Garbuio, M., & Lin, N. (2019). Artificial intelligence as a growth engine for health care startups: Emerging business models. California Management Review, 61(2), 59-83.

Gugler, P. 2017. Emerging countries’ country-specific advantages (CSAs) and competitiveness of emerging market multinational enterprises (EMNEs). Competitiveness Review, 27(3): 194-207.

Hennart, J. F. 2012. Emerging market multinationals and the theory of the multinational enterprise. Global Strategy Journal, 2(3): 168–87.

Hymer, S. H. 1960. The international operations of national firms: A study of direct foreign

investment. Ph.D thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.

Katz, M. L. & Shapiro, C. 1985. Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility. American Economic Review, 75(3): 424-40.

Knight, G. A. & Cavusgil, S. T. 2004. Innovation, organizational capabilities, and the born-global firm. Journal of International Business Studies, 35(2): 124-41.

Li, J., Chen, L., Yi, J., Mao, J., & Liao, J. (2019). Ecosystem-specific advantages in international digital commerce. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(9), 1448-1463.

Li, J., Pan, Y., Yang, Y., & Tse, C. H. (2022). Digital platform attention and international sales: An attention-based view. Journal of International Business Studies, 1-19.

Luo, Y. & Tung, R. L. 2007. International expansion of emerging market enterprises: A springboard perspective. Journal of International Business Studies, 38(4): 481-98.

Moore, J. 1993. Predators and prey: a new ecology of competition. Harvard Business Review, 71(3): 75-86.

Ojala, A., Evers, N., & Rialp, A. 2018. Extending the international new venture phenomenon to digital platform providers: A longitudinal case study. Journal of World Business, 53: S1090951617307149-.

Nambisan, S., Zahra, S. A., & Luo, Y. (2019). Global platforms and ecosystems: Implications for international business theories. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(9), 1464-1486.

Parente, R., Rong, K., Geleilate, J.-M. G., & Misati, E. 2019. Adapting and sustaining operations in weak institutional environments: A business ecosystem assessment of a Chinese MNE in Central Africa. Journal of International Business Studies, 50(2): 275-91.

Rong, K. 2022. Research agenda for the digital economy. Journal of Digital Economy, 1(1), 20-31.

Rong, K., Kang Z. & Williamson, P.J., 2022. Liability of ecosystem integration and internationalisation of digital firms, Journal of International Management 28(4):100939

Rong, K., Wu, J., Shi, Y., & Guo, L. 2015. Nurturing business ecosystems for growth in a foreign market: Incubating, identifying and integrating stakeholders. Journal of International Management, 21(4): 293-308.

Rong, K., Zhou, D., Shi, X., & Huang, W. 2022. Social Information Disclosure of Friends in Common in an E‐commerce Platform Ecosystem: An Online Experiment. Production and Operations Management, 31(3), 984-1005.

Rugman, A. M. 1981. Inside the multinationals: The economics of internal markets. New York: Columbia Press.

Rugman, A. M. & Verbeke, A. 2003. Extending the theory of the multinational enterprise: internalization and strategic management perspectives. Journal of International Business Studies, 34(2): 125-37.

Rugman, A. M. & Verbeke, A. 1992. A Note On The Transnational Solution And The Transaction Cost Theory Of Multinational Strategic Management. Journal of International Business Studies, 23(4): 761-71.

Rugman, A. M. & Verbeke, A. 2004. A perspective on regional and global strategies of multinational enterprises. Journal of International Business Studies, 35(1): 3-18.

Santos, J. F. P. & Williamson, P. J. 2015. The new mission for multinationals. MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(4): 44–54.

Shaheer, N. A., & Li, S. 2020. The CAGE around cyberspace? How digital innovations internationalize in a virtual world. Journal of Business Venturing, 35(1), 105892.

Shaheer, N., Li, S. and Priem, R., 2020. Revisiting location in a digital age: How can lead markets accelerate the internationalization of mobile apps?. Journal of International Marketing, 28(4), pp.21-40.

Stallkamp, M. & Schotter, A. 2019. Platforms without borders? the international strategies of digital platform firms. Global Strategy Journal.

Weerawardena, J., Mort, G. S., Liesch, P. W., & Knight, G. 2007. Conceptualizing accelerated internationalization in the born global firm: A dynamic capabilities perspective. Journal of World Business, 42(3): 294-306.

Zaheer, S. 1995. Overcoming the liability of foreignness. Academy of Management Journal, 38(2): 341-63.

Zhou, L., Wu, W.-p., & Luo, X. 2007. Internationalization and the performance of born-global SMEs: the mediating role of social networks. Journal of International Business Studies, 38(4): 673–90.

Zhu, F. & Iansiti, M. 2012. Entry into platform-based markets. Strategic Management Journal, 33(1): 88–106 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/smj.941/full.

Zhu, F. & Iansiti, M. 2019. Why Some Platforms Thrive and Others Don’t. Harvard Business Review (January–February 2019 ): 118-25.