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Move fast and break things: Reassessing IB research in the light of the digital revolution


Global Strategy Journal


Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Authors / Editors

Birkinshaw J

Publication Year



Research Summary How has the emergence of born-digital firms such as Facebook and Uber influenced international business (IB) research? In this essay, I outline the distinctive qualities of these firms, in particular their “global by default” mindset, and I discuss how IB research on strategy, organization, and institutional context is evolving to help us understand them better. I argue that some traditional domains of inquiry (e.g., subsidiary role typologies) have become obsolete, while others (e.g., MNC–government relationships) have become more important. There is also scope for developing new theories to explain what we observe, rather than seeking to “shoehorn” new phenomena into our existing schemata. Managerial Summary “Move fast and break things” was the original motto of Facebook (now Meta), and it is emblematic of how many born-digital firms behave. These firms seek to grow quickly, and they have little regard for international borders, often operating in a global-by-default way. They are, in other words, very different to industrial-era firms that plotted their international expansion in a cautious and sequential way. In this essay, I discuss whether our existing IB theories—which were developed during the industrial era—are still fit-for-purpose in an economy increasingly dominated by born-digital firms.

Publication Notes

Special Issue Article

Available on ECCH


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