This research examines, at the corporate level, the strategic
behaviour of retailer internationalisation. The primary purpose is to
increase our knowledge as empirical research has not kept pace with
the growth of retailer internationalisation. In fact it has not
really started. The previous documentary research has been fragmented
and descriptive rather than analytical. This has created an urgent
need for an exploratory, yet analytical empirical investigation into
Consequently, this study attempts to answer the following
questions: Vhat is (a) the extent and characteristics of U.K.
retailers with international retail interests, (b) the major motives
for retailer internationalisation, (c) obstacles to retailer
internationalisation, (d) the factors important when operating in
international retail markets, (e) the organisational and decision
maker characteristics associated with retailer internationalisation,
(f) the relationship of the preceding constructs with the extent of
retailer internationalisation and (g) the interrelationships between
the predictive constructs and their impact on retailer
These questions, by drawing on the literature of other
disciplines, were summarised into an exploratory conceptualisation.
This was made operative by interviewing senior representatives from 42
U.K. retailers with international interests.
The study revealed: the heterogeneous nature of U.K retailers
with international retail interests, evidence that retailers
internationalised in response to growth orientated and proactive
motives and motives stemming from the international appeal and
innovativeness of their retail formula, the diminishing and increasing
permeabilty of obstacles to retailer internationalisation and a
reliance upon various factors to aid competitive differentiation and
the performance of retail operations in international markets.
Support was also found for elements of an international orientation
amongst retail decision makers, an incremental approach to decision
making in retailer internationalisation, a large degree of claimed
marketing orientation, the presence of certain characteristics
associated with corporate entrepreneurship, the possession of
accumulated learning experience, the absence of an international
orientation at the corporate level and retailer internationalisation
being a strategic option for retailers of all sizes.
Additionally, the predictors of retailer internationalisation
were factored and it was possible to identify various underlying
dimensions. These were used to predict the extent of retailer
internationalisation. Provisional support was also found for four
pioneering models of the interrelationships among the predictors and
their impact upon retailer internationalisation.Overall the study represented a ground clearing exercise by
developing initial but tentative theorising into retailer
internationalisation. The research has numerous implications for
future research directions and management practice. It should be
welcomed by practitioners and academics alike, given the growth and
increasing importance of this strategic behaviour and the embryonic
nature of theorising into the subject.