11.2.1 Founding fathers

I go back to our earlier example about born global firms. Sorting the results by year allows us to identify the "founding author(s)" of the concept. In this case, I can easily identify that the first publication was in 1993 by MW Rennie in McKinsey Quarterly (there is one other publication in 1993, but this turned out to be a Google Scholar processing error).

Founding fathers

The paper talks about a McKinsey study amongst Australian firms that identified small and medium-sized companies that successfully competed against large, established players in the global arena without first building a home base. Hence, the phenomenon was first discovered by a consulting firm in Australia, not by academics.

The second publication is an editorial by a well-known academic in International Marketing, who in the Journal of International Marketing reports on the results of the McKinsey study that he discovered when spending 6 months as a Fullbright Scholar in Australia. Cavusgil (1994:4) says: “I would like to comment on an interesting phenomenon in the Australian export scene. It is relevant to those of us in other post-industrial economies and, hopefully, should spur some research interests.”

Interestingly, the third publication is also about Australian born globals, this time wine producers. However, even after 15 years, the article hasnt generated a single citation. This seems to suggest it has not been picked by researchers, no doubt largely caused by the fact that it was published in a rather obscure and specialized journal (Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal). The Australian angle is also apparent in a later unpublished conceptual paper by Kandasaami at the University of Western Australia in 1998.

Cavusgil took his own recommendation to heart and started researching this phenomenon, leading to very highly cited publication co-authored with Gary Knight in the research annual Advances in International Marketing. Both Knight and Cavusgil went on to publish other papers in this field. They were joined at an early stage by Danish academic Tage Madsen, who with his Danish co-authors Servais and Rasmussen published a number of papers on the topic. In 1999 a comparison of Danish and Australian companies was published, co-authored with Australian academic Evangelista.

In 1999, the phenomenon was also picked up in the UK, where Gurau & Ranchhod researched biotechnology firms. By 2000 the topic had spread to researchers in the USA (Harveston et al.), Ireland (Bell), Finland (Autio), and Israel (Almor & Hashai). Interest remained strong amongst researchers these countries, but after 2000 they were joined by researchers in Sweden, Portugal, and New Zealand. One can observe that with the exception of some researchers in the USA and Israel, the phenomenon attracted most interest from academics in “small” economies at the peripheries of the world.