In the Venn Diagram of sociologists and international business researchers, Dr. Richard Deeg sits right in the middle.
This June, Dr. Deeg, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, will receive the Journal of International Business Studies Decade Award from the Academy of International Business for his 2008 paper that encouraged scholars to think about international business in a more holistic way.
“My interest in business has been within the political context,” says Deeg, formerly chair of the Department of Political Science. “I want to know how businesses are organized, regulated, and structured, and how this impacts other segments of society.”
Since 1996, the Decade Award has honored the most influential article in international business (IB) in the previous ten-year period. Dr. Deeg is the second Temple University researcher to receive the award, the first since Dr. Arvind Parkhe, Laura H. Carnell Professor and chair of the Department of Strategic Management in the Fox School, in 2001.
Deeg and his co-author, Gregory Jackson of the Free University of Berlin, compared two international business approaches in their paper, “Comparing capitalisms: understanding institutional diversity and its implications for international business.”
First, a variable-based approach, which was and remains common in IB literature, focuses on individual aspects of a country in order to understand how an outside firm may be affected. For example, executives may examine a country’s legal framework, which may not be as strong as in their home country or may favor different activities over others, to learn how it would impact decisions made in the new country.
Deeg presented “comparative capitalism” as an alternative viewpoint in IB, an approach frequently used in political science and sociology. “We were advocating a holistic approach,” says Deeg. “We said, don’t just compare property rights, and how they might be different and how that might affect our business. You also have to think about how the whole system in a different country works.”
The paper did not present one approach as superior than the other; rather, they were meant to be used as complementary. The variables-based approach, which using specific characteristics of an economic landscape, lends itself well to quantitative studies. The comparative capitalism approach, on the other hand, is helpful in understanding the way these institutions interact.
“Since 2008, there has been a lot more research in examining institutions,” says Ram Mudambi, Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategy at the Fox School. “While it existed before this paper, it would be fair to say that institutional context has seen an increase in interest in IB literature over the last decade.”
Deeg uses his political science background to view the existing IB literature in a unique light, and he advises others to do the same. “My advice, particularly to young researchers, is to break outside your preordained professional circles and societies, and venture into ones that overlap.”
Since being named Dean of the College of Liberal Arts in September 2016, Deeg has recognized the value of translating research insights outside of academia.
“How do we take the ivory tower work we do and connect it to the city? The Fox School is certainly thinking that way, and we’re trying to invest as well,” says Deeg. “It’s a way to give back to the city, but it’s also a way to launch the students.”
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