Home country effects on internationalization has been conventionally conceived as a contrast to the pull of host countries determinants. While scholarship acknowledges that home country support matters more to internationalizing emerging market multinational enterprises, the focus of extant literature has been underpinned by assumptions of stable macro-level and unidirectional institutional support for the internationalization of firms. This thesis contrasts with previous studies by repositioning the conversation to incorporate the temporal dimension, and investigate the multi-level relationships across institutions, industries and markets in the home country and the varied effects on internationalization.
Chinese agrifood investment to advanced economies from 2008 to 2017 against the backdrop of rebalancing and consumption-led growth economy is the phenomenon and research context. The overarching research question is “How do home country effects shape the internationalization of Chinese firms?”. This is addressed in four contextual and case study chapters. Drawing on interdisciplinary literature and applying an abductive research process, I developed a dynamic home country relational model to study the internationalization process of Chinese firms that enriches existing process and institutional frameworks.
There are four central findings presented in this thesis. First, home country support engenders different meanings constructed by heterogeneous dispensers and recipients who adopt discretionary selection in a competitive environment. Second, experienced agrifood firms have learned to deliberately avoid controversial farmland purchases and targeted downstream businesses in advanced economies to access resources and gain management skills. Third, wealthy non-agricultural Chinese groups lacking in specialized industry knowledge, face compounded challenges diversifying into agrifood sector and internationalizing simultaneously. Fourth, risk perception and risk mitigation have accentuated as internationalization of Chinese firms evolved, shifting from self-checking to tightening of regulatory controls and reinforced by businesses’ confirmation of support.
This study has enhanced the understanding of evolving institutions, and the nuances and irregularity of internationalization processes through the explanation of complex interactions and responses from the perspective of home country actors.