Key Resources and Internationalization Modes of Creative Knowledge-Intensive Business Services: The Case of Design Consultancies
July 18, 2012 Editor 0
In the ‘knowledge economy’, knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) are a key driver for innovation and competitiveness. The internationalization of these businesses raises challenges given their specificities such as knowledge intensity, the importance of customer interaction and intimacy in service delivery. This paper focuses on design consultancies as a specific type of creative KIBS for which these characteristics are emphasized.
The objective of this research is to analyse the resources leveraged by the firms to compete internationally. It is based on 11 case studies of design consultancies located in five different countries (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK) that were selected for their capacity to perform at the international level for several years. The paper advances three internationalization modes depending on contingent variables and focusing on specific resources that enable international competitiveness: star-based, process-based and glocality-based. In star-based creative KIBS, the individual designer has developed a reputation that attracts customers internationally, operating as a brand. In process-based creative KIBS, the reputation of a collective creative process attracts clients from other countries.
In glocality-based creative KIBS, the geographical proximity obtained by opening international offices helps to develop a close understanding of the client through frequent interactions, and also to know the client’s market well and to better understand local codes and signs. These modes complement those presented in the existing internationalization literature which takes the peculiarities of creative KIBS into consideration.
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