Bibliographic analysis of the scholarly writings of José de la Torre
Provides an historical overview of José de la Torre's research interests and publications, created by using the Publish or Perish software
Written by Anne-Wil Harzing, AIB Fellows Bibliometrician. This analysis first appeared in the AIB Newsletter.
José de la Torre’s publishing career spanned more than 50 years, with his first publication in 1970 and his last article published posthumously in 2023. Fittingly for an IB scholar, his first journal article was published in the just established Journal of International Business Studies (1971), whilst his last articles were published in Review of International Business and Strategy (2023) and Journal of World Business (2018). His body of scholarly work has been cited more than 3,000 times in Google Scholar, with a h-index of 18.
Like other early IB pioneers, he published much of his work in the form of books and book chapters. He was the author of over 25 books/chapters and more than 30 case studies. He also published in a range of journals not well covered in any of the traditional databases such as Atlanta Economic Review, Economie et Finance, Euro-Asia Business Review, International Issues, Perfides Liberales, Revue Française de Gestion, and Transformation. Therefore, the review below focuses mainly on his 21 publications in mainstream journals that were accessible online.
Exporting and economic development
De la Torre’s first interest was in the export of manufactured goods from developing countries to realise their growth aspirations. His 1971 article in the second volume of JIBS on this topic also provides a fascinating insight into publishing practices at the time. Written in a lively, discursive style, it is sparsely referenced. It contains barely more than a dozen references and doesn’t include any empirical work. It has no abstract and contains none of the sections we are now so familiar with: introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Particularly noticeable is the article’s strong emphasis on policy implications with no less than 40% of the article devoted to this. It appears that in its early days JIBS did capture the domain now represented by Journal of International Business Policy.
De la Torre continued to publish on exporting and FDI in a development context with articles on Foreign investment and export dependency (1974) and Foreign investment and economic development: conflict and negotiation (1981). The latter article was also published in JIBS and again shows how much less constraining publishing practices were in the early days of our field. I reproduce part of the abstract below. As someone who has seen quite a few of her publishing ventures rejected as “falling between the stools of essay, review, and empirics”, this reads as a breath of fresh air to me!
This paper is part survey, part essay. The survey consists of a partial review of the literature […]. Next follow some general principles […], drawn from the experience obtained in other fields […]. Last, the essay integrates the various threads of analysis into a series of normative conclusions which, while not pretending to be imperial, are offered as challenges for further study.
Expert on the clothing industry
In his eulogy George Yip indicates that “In terms of research, José focused on relevance for practitioners, true to his doctoral education at Harvard Business School.” Relevance for practitioners usually requires deep knowledge of their industry. This deep dive is clearly evident in his early work on the clothing industry. In the late seventies to mid-1980s de la Torre published several books and book chapters on the US, OECD, and European clothing industry, based on large-scale project examining changes in the competitiveness of the US and European clothing industries.
With Jeffrey Arpan and Brian Toyne, he also published two articles in JIBS on the fate of the US clothing industry (Corporate Adjustments and Import Competition in the U.S. Apparel Industry and International Developments and the U.S. Apparel Industry). He also published two articles in European journals on the European clothing industry: The uncommon market: European policies towards the clothing industry in the 1970s and Public Intervention Strategies in the European Clothing Industries.
For those growing up with “made in China” labels in their clothes, this body of work provides a fascinating insight into the decline of traditional industries in the Western world.
MNEs in Latin America
Originating from Cuba it is not surprising that de la Torre’s work had a strong focus on MNEs in Latin America. His early work on exporting and economic development already had a special focus on Latin America. Other early work in this area dealt with political risk (Forecasting political risk for international operations, 1988) and trade liberalization (Optimizing an international network of partially-owned plants under conditions of trade liberalization,1977).
In his later work, he focused on management processes and organizational strategies in response to major environmental changes, with five articles published from the mid-2000 onwards:
- Organizational Change Among Emerging Latin American Firms: From “Multilatinas” to Multinationals, 2005
- Corporate Governance for a New Environment. Adjusting ownership and organization in an integrated market, 2008.
- Organizational Responses to Regional Integration Among MNEs in Latin America, 2011
- Network coordination and performance among MNEs in Latin America, 2012
- MNCs’ orchestration capability of the 3Ds and financial performance, 2023
Some of his most impactful work in terms of citations deals with corporate alliances, with four articles between 1998 and 2008 – co-authored with among others Africa Ariño, Francis Bidault, and Peter Ring. This body of work attracted more than 2,000 citations and had a strong focus on relational quality and trust.
The first three articles introduced the concept of relational quality as independent of, but complementary to inter-personal trust. The concept provides managers with a means to manage the asymmetry between trust being difficult to build and easy to destroy.
- Learning from failure: Towards an evolutionary model of collaborative ventures
- Relational quality and inter‐personal trust in strategic alliances
- Relational quality: Managing trust in corporate alliances
The next two articles study in more detail how demographic factors – in particular nationality – and context are related to propensity to rely on trust. The authors conclude that the concept of trust (in both its propensity and its underlying meaning) will vary substantially across cultures.
- What makes executives trust each other? The determinants of the willingness to rely on trust in business partnerships
- Willingness to rely on trust in global business collaborations: Context vs. demography
The breadth of the domain of IB
De la Torre’s body work ranged in focus from exporting and economic development, industry competitiveness, trade liberalization and political risk, to internal organizational structures and managing trust. These topics have traditionally been studied in sub-disciplines as varied as development economics, industrial economics, and political economics, as well as headquarter-subsidiary relationships and cross-cultural management / international organizational behaviour. They remind us both of the breadth of the domain of International Business, but also of the breadth of some of our early IB scholars like de la Torre. He appears to have constantly reinvented himself in a new domain.
Even so, I was surprised to find two additional articles on topics seemingly completely unrelated to the four main research streams above. Both of these dealt with topics that – at the time – were at the forefront of new phenomena in International Business.
Transfer of management practices
Co-authored with AIB Fellow Brian Toyne, de la Torre’s 1978 article Cross-National Managerial Interaction: A Conceptual Model in the third volume of the Academy of Management Review, presents a model to analyze transfer of management practices. A multi-level model before they became all the rage, it includes external constraints and contextual/enterprise factors in home and host country contexts, as well as corporate practices and managerial attributes of the parent company, subsidiary company and domestic companies, matched with individual attributes of the local managers involved.
It was not quite the first academic publication on the topic of transfer of management practices across borders. There had been two earlier PhD dissertations on the topic by Bernard Estafen (1967), supervised by Harold Koontz, and Richard Wells (1971), supervised by Richard Farmer. Anant Negandhi had published a chapter on it in his book on Management and Economic Development. The Case of Taiwan (1973) and Y.K. Shetty appears to have published the first academic article on the topic in Management International Review (1973). However, de la Torre and Toyne’s article was certainly the first that analyzed this topic in any detail, providing a model that is still useful for academics working in this now burgeoning area of research.
The 2001 special issue introduction on E-commerce and Global Business co-authored by de la Torre and Richard Moxon introduced a series of papers on the topic, many of which were presented at a symposium on how ICT might impact international business theory and practice. However, de la Torre’s introduction was a strong conceptual contribution in its own right, providing a detailed analysis of the phenomenon and its impact on IB.
Being so ubiquitous now, it is easy to forget how novel e-commerce still was around the turn of the century. Back then Amazon was only an online bookstore and still had to turn its first profit. The World Wide Web was less than a decade old and was barely used in academia (I finished my own PhD in 1997 without it).
Conclusion: a true academic entrepreneur
This analysis shows that de la Torre was an imaginative and impactful researcher. However, he was also very much committed to teaching, in particular the internationalization of business school curricula and programmes. He was honoured as Outstanding educator of the year in 2013 by the Academy of Management.
His publications in AIB insights on the first twenty years of AIB dissertation awards (with John Daniels) and his recent two-parter (with Corinne Young) on Global Citizenship and Business Education: Antecedents and Foundations and The role of Business Schools evidence an academic with a real passion for supporting for the next generation of scholars and responsible citizens.
As George Yip writes in his eulogy: “He was a true academic entrepreneur, constantly innovating”. Although I have never had a chance to interact with José, it is clear to me that we have lost we lost a versatile and imaginative academic and a kind-hearted colleague. Let’s continue to capture de la Torre’s spirit of what being a good academic is all about.
This analysis was hindered by the fact that Jose de la Torre did not have a Google Scholar Profile. He also had many namesakes, i.e., scholars with the same name. Therefore, I pieced together his publication record from an old CV and a variety of online sources. Hence, even though this write-up was checked by his co-author Africa Ariño, his profile might not be 100% accurate. If you do find any missing information or inaccuracies, please let me know.
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Copyright © 2023 Anne-Wil Harzing. All rights reserved. Page last modified on Fri 20 Oct 2023 16:51
Anne-Wil Harzing is Professor of International Management at Middlesex University, London and visiting professor of International Management at Tilburg University. She is a Fellow of the Academy of International Business, a select group of distinguished AIB members who are recognized for their outstanding contributions to the scholarly development of the field of international business. In addition to her academic duties, she also maintains the Journal Quality List and is the driving force behind the popular Publish or Perish software program.