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Internal and External Learning Races in Born Transnationals: What are the Driving Forces?



This paper investigates an under-researched type of “born transnationals” as young transnational companies. “Born transnationals” are equipped with specific governance structures that may accelerate the internationalization process based on organizational learning. In this vein, the research question of the paper is: What are the core drivers of organizational learning in case of “born transnationals”?

Based on a model of organizational learning, we present and check a model-based set of structured research propositions of the learning process of “born transnationals”. The propositions undergo a first reality check by developing two case studies based on semi-structured interviews.

Empirical evidence challenges the role of some factors (e.g. the role of international experience and proactivity of entrepreneurs) well-elaborated in literature and examines whether others (e.g. transactive knowledge) play a pivotal role. Against this background, some of the proposed causalities were to be modified and specified.

The findings suggest that organizational learning in born transnationals requires social capital and a particular type of learning culture. Moreover, entrepreneurs are well advised to foster the transfer of knowledge among the people in the company as far as possible to turn the 'wheel of knowledge'.

The paper portrays a new type of born globals, introduces a new model and develops first causal structures in this context. It identifies and specifies drivers of learning processes of the “born transnationals” archetype.



international new ventures, born transnationals, organizational learning, absorptive capacity, transactive knowledge


Author Biography

Jörg Freiling

Full Professor of entrepreneurship at the LEMEX Chair in Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Vice Dean of the Faculty for Business Studies and Economics at the University of Bremen (Germany).

Mareike Zimmermann

PhD Student at the Faculty for Business Studies and Economics at the University of Bremen


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