Born foreign ﬁrms in Cambodia
Exploration of mode of entry decisions
of ﬁrms originating from the greater
Bangkok University International College, Bangkok, Thailand
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the mode of entry decisions of ﬁrms owned by
individuals from a developing country, Thailand, when establishing business operations into a lesser
developed country, Cambodia.
Design/methodology/approach – The study uses a case study method, using interviews which were
held with owners, managers and employees of eight Thai-owned companies operating in Cambodia.
Findings – The paper funds that existing internationalization theory and mode of entry frameworks
were useful for classifying the two largest ﬁrms in the study, however the smaller entrepreneurial
ﬁrms could not be accurately categorized according to the existing classiﬁcations and therefore an
additional category, the born foreign ﬁrm, was identiﬁed.
Practical implications – As small enterprises are responsible for the vast majority of
business activities in lesser developed economies, understanding the nature of born foreign ﬁrms
can provide policy makers and educators with information to build policies and educational program
Originality/value – The phenomenon of the born foreign ﬁrm was identiﬁed and explored.
Keywords Market entry, International business, Cambodia, Thailand
Paper type Case study
While international business (IB) research has traditionally been focused primarily on
multinational enterprises (MNEs) from developed nations (Buckley and Lessard, 2005),
there is an increasing amount of trade being conducted in Asia and the Greater
Mekong Sub-region (GMS) solely between ﬁrms and individuals from developing
countries (Ahearne et al., 2003; Maekawa, 2004; Maneepong and Wu, 2004). Therefore,
there have been numerous calls in the IB literature to encourage IB research that
include perspectives other than those of the MNEs (London and Hart, 2004; Meyer,
2004; Ramamurti, 2004; Ricart et al., 2004). In addition, a very strong correlations has
been found between international trade and economic growth (Barnabe
2003; Broda and Weinstein, 2005; Farrell, 2004; Landefeld and Kozlow, 2003;
Langenfeld and Nieberding, 2005; Sen, 2002; Stark, 2005; Walde and Wood, 2004;
Zanfei, 2005) and private industry is also known to play an important role in poverty
reduction of Chino (2004) and Lin (2004); therefore studying the role of IB and trade in
emerging and lesser developed economies can provide information that can stimulate
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The paper is based on research conducted for Dr Hipsher’s doctoral dissertation, “Regional
internationalization strategies of ﬁrms originating from the Greater Mekong sub-region: an
exploratory case study” and builds upon the conclusions of the dissertation.
International Journal of Emerging
Vol. 3 No. 1, 2008
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited