International Business and Interdisciplinary Research

In line with our ambition to develop the research agenda, we have launched a number of projects that expand our traditional research. These projects have a societal connection beyond conventional business studies, addressing issues such as democracy, social innovations and global health. 

Cooperation and KM in international multisectoral partnerships

A number of “international multi-sectorial partnerships” (IMSPs) have been founded to address the urgent threat of anti-microbial resistance (AMR). These partnerships consist of actors from different countries ranging from business and government to academia and civil society. Received research knows little about what influences the success or failure of this new and complex kind of partnership. Thus, our aim is to understand how differences between actors from different sectors, potential conflicts of interest, and the international dimension to such organizations are related to their value creation processes and outcomes. Specifically, in this project we will map the different roles that business partners play in IMSPs. The project will utilize a multiple-case study, a survey, and a computer agent-based model to analyse cases where “business partner” involvement and their relationships with other types of actors has furthered or hindered the creation of value in IMSPs. The findings will shed much needed light on influential factors that determine the functioning of IMSPs and their success to fight AMR.

Project leader: Olof Lindahl
Project members: Carla Sacchi, Francesco Ciabuschi
Duration: 2021-Ongoing
Current phase: Qualitative data collection

Democracy and International expansion

The main goal of the project is to study the interaction between Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and the political environment in developing countries. Many countries go through political changes, for example, a democratization process, political instability or a setback toward autocracy. One of the research project questions is to answer on a macro level how MNCs play a role in these political changes. Another question is to go on a mezzo and examine how MNCs’ investments in a specific sector might play more concrete role in impacting the political change.

The subject of IB and the political environment in general, or more specifically democracy is understudied from an internationalization theory’s point of view. Therefore, the aim is to bridge this gap from both theoretical and empirical point of view. 

Project leader: Ulf Holm
Project members: Mats Forsgren, Amer Skeiker, Lena Zander
Duration: 2018-ongoing

DRIVE-AB: Driving re-investment in R&D and responsible antibiotic use

DRIVE-AB (, financed by IMI (Innovative Medicines Initiative), is a joint undertaking between the EU and the European Pharmaceutical Industry Association that is tasked with developing new economic models to incentivize R&D in antibiotics. In this project, the Department of Business Studies has leading roles in both research and project management and works with pharmaceutical firms and policy-makers to identify challenges to antibiotic R&D and suggest how these challenges may be overcome using incentives and policy changes that target companies’ business models and the existing business cases that guide antibiotic R&D. With the confines of the DRIVE-AB project, the Department is partnered with 15 universities (e.g. Princeton, LSE, Boston, Geneva) and 7 pharmaceutical companies (e.g. AstraZeneca, GSK, Roche, Pfizer) from 12 countries. Moreover, in this project our Department also collaborates with external stakeholders such as WHO, UN, World Bank, and about 60 European SMEs. Within Uppsala University, the DRIVE-AB project entails also collaboration between the Department of Business Studies and the ReAct center, the Uppsala Antibiotic Center, as well as with several departments, faculties, and research groups from Information Systems, Law, Medicine and Pharmaceutics, Global Health, Economic history, and Engineering.

Project leader: Francesco Ciabuschi
Project members: Olof Lindahl
Duration: 2015-ongoing

iDX: An exploration of regulatory, corporate, relational, and technical barriers to uptake of diagnostics in the fight against AMR

Greater availability of fast and accurate diagnostics for infections would greatly reduce the over-prescription of antibiotics and slow the growth of antibiotic resistance which limits treatment options. It would also help prescribe the right drug at the right time, thus reducing suffering and increasing survival. However, despite advances in technology, few useful diagnostics for bacterial infections have come to market and we are seeing a downward trend in innovation. This study proposes to identify the key barriers to supply, transfer, and use of diagnostics, looking at recent technological advances that ultimately failed to be authorized or adopted, or to change prescribing. It will also look at technologies that helped in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Lessons from the failures and few successes will be used to assess chances for products in the pipeline, examining how regulation, reimbursement, technology transfer, and take-up might be improved to make them succeed within the clinical setting. The project will moreover examine the technical characteristics of technologies most likely to help tackle AMR in the sub-Sahara through a review of applicable technologies and focused case studies in South Africa

Project leader: Olof Lindahl
Duration: 2020-2024
Financing source: Vetenskapsrådet

MNC involvement in social innovation projects: Exploring the liability of newness

Social innovation has been increasingly highlighted in the 21st century due to its potential of meeting social, economic, political and environmental challenges. In recent years, there has been a call for an increased participation of multinational companies (MNCs) in social innovation activities, both from the EU and the UN. However, situated on the border between societal development and profit maximization, the role of MNCs in social innovation activities is inherently complex and we know very little about MNCs’ involvement in social innovation.

This research project takes the point of departure that MNCs may suffer from a “liability of newness” when it comes to their involvement in ‘social’ innovation activities. This implies that MNCs’ participation in social innovations can be expected to be different from their involvement in traditional business innovations, and thus will diverge from our existing knowledge on MNCs’ role in developing and leveraging innovations. Due to the current enigma surrounding the role of MNCs in social innovation for both practitioners and academics, this project aims at mapping out the drivers behind MNCs involvement in social innovation projects, how these projects are conducted and what the main barriers and challenges to such involvement are, for instance when it comes to organizing and managing social innovation projects. The results of this study will contribute to not only researchers- but also social and political actors’ knowledge on how MNCs contribute to society through the involvement in social innovation initiatives. From a managerial point of view this research has generated an increased understanding about social innovation practices, in particular what new knowledge and competencies are needed.

Project leader: Christine Holmström Lind
Project members: Anna Ljung, Olivia Kang, Paul Rosenbaum
Duration: 2019- ongoing
Financed by: Handelsbankens Research Foundations

MNE political behavior in the non-market: A self-preservation perspective

This project examines societal concerns and ‘bad behavior’ associated with MNEs and FDI, in terms of exerting pressures on government regulation that compromise ethics, sustainability and societal well-being. We argue that while extant IB theory is well equipped to analyze and explain MNC behavior in the market environment, it lacks analytical perspectives with equal analytical rigor and explanatory power when it comes to MNE behavior in the external political non-market environment. Hence, we develop an argument for the adoption of the international relations perspective of ‘self-preservation’ in IB scholarship, as it provides a more suitable analytical lens to view and analyze both the market and nonmarket aspects of MNC behavior. This opens up for analyses of MNC engagement in shaping and dominating political processes to define the structure of national and transnational politics. We introduce a new framework that explains the structural dimension of MNC rationality which drives ‘bad behavior’.

Project leader: Ulf Holm
Project members: David Freund, Mats Forsgren, Stephen Buzdugan
Duration: 2020-2024
Financed by: Handelsbankens Research Foundations

Navigating the policy landscape: barriers and synergies in strategies for climate and biodiversity

There is no shortage of strategies aiming for sustainable development in general, and for climate and biodiversity goals in particular. On the contrary, strategies for societal transformation spanning the local, national, and global levels, are abundant. Still, key environmental goals are oftentimes not achieved as current climate and biodiversity strategies often fail due to, for example, gaps between overarching goals and the concrete policy instruments in-use, implementation challenges, conflicts between different environmental strategies, with strategies in other policy areas, or with the agendas and actions of business and industry, organizations, civil society, and single individuals.

This project puts attention to firms and industries as they have a central role in supporting societal adaptation to the physical impacts of climate change, especially in more directly affected sectors such as agriculture, forestry, construction, or transportation. However, the business and management field has repeatedly been criticized for its lack of engagement with climate change. While public and policy interest started already in the 1980s, the main driver for corporate strategic change was the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. However, after the Kyoto agreement the corporate response seems to have been largely defensive or hesitant. For the most part, however, a wait-and-see attitude prevailed in the corporate world during the 1990s. Scholars have frequently pointed out that climate activities and barriers against action are not uniform for businesses and that the factors that either enable or constrain action are very context specific. This observation directs attention to the need to narrow down the blend of factors that promote or inhibit Swedish corporations’ responses to climate change policies. This project will explore how various climate strategies targeting corporate actions and activities are supported by larger corporations in Sweden and the effect on the development of corporate environmental strategies.

Project leader: Christine Holmström Lind
Project members: This sub-project is part of a larger project conducted within cooperation with researchers at Uppsala University, Luleå University of Technology (LTU), University of Gothenburg. Program leader Simon Matti (LTU)
Duration: 2023-2027
Financed by: The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

The Innovation Ecosystem of Born-Digitals and the Development of Complements

The project deals with the emergence of born-digital firms that early on compete within and across innovation ecosystems on a global scale based on digital solutions. We do not know much about the logic driving the entry of digital start-ups into a complementary role vis-à-vis existing dominant players within an industry or in relation to dominant designs. The project addresses questions related to what drives start-up firms to enter an industry and specific innovation ecosystems and the process of providing complements to existing dominant products and/or incumbents. Also, knowledge on how the entry of complementors influences the organization of an innovation ecosystem, as well as competition within the ecosystem, is scarce. These conundrums become particularly relevant to investigate within the project, considering the prevalent dearth of knowledge revolving around the disruptive nature and growing importance of digital solutions in many industries.

Project leader: Henrik Dellestrand
Project members: Philip Kappen, Manolito Hibanada
Duration: 2022-2026
Financed by: The Research School of Management and IT (MIT)

Last modified: 2023-09-18