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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Mzamo P. Mangaliso

Second Advisor

Steven W. Floyd

Third Advisor

Raza A. Mir

Fourth Advisor

Jessica Pearlman

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies | Strategic Management Policy


The extant literature has viewed internationalization through the lens of the expansion of developed markets multinational enterprises (DMMs) and newly industrialized markets’ multinational enterprises (NIMMs), largely overlooking emerging markets’ multinational enterprises (EMMs). The central argument of this study is that the internationalization of EMMs follows a different trajectory from that of DMMs. It addresses the question of how EMMs internationalize in terms of the countries to which they expand, the decision-making processes involved, and the impact of home country factors on the chosen internationalization processes. Methodological triangulation was used to collect data from interviews with senior executives of five large South African EMM firms, document analysis, and quantitative analysis based on a sample of over 800 firms traded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The findings from the case studies and document analyses show that the internationalization paths of the sample EMMs from South Africa were, indeed, different from those pursued by DMMs, with each of the case study firms following different trajectories. Moreover, in the target countries, the performance of EMMs was influenced by psychic distance. The findings of the study also suggest that a U-shaped relationship exists between psychic distance and performance of EMMs in the target market. The study finds support for the first hypothesis that an increase in the levels of uncertainty will have a more negative effect on the performance of foreign firms compared to domestic firms. Furthermore, the findings contradict Hypothesis 2 that a reduction in institutional barriers will have a more positive effect on foreign firms than on local firms. The analysis of the internationalization process of EMMs in the study was used to generate a model of the stages of their internationalization. The model highlights how the historical developments of the home country were a major factor in determining firms’ trajectories. Government ties, political stability, information availability and home country uncertainty played major roles in the internationalization decisions. Future studies will need to rigorously test the findings that the internationalization paths of EMMs differ from DMMs as more accurate information becomes available from emerging markets to match similar information from developed markets.