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The Metropolitan Effect: Colonial Influence on the Internationalization of Francophone African Firms

  • Tah Ahmed Meouloud (a1), Ram Mudambi (a1) and TL Hill (a1)

Drawing on the experience of firms of various sizes from Francophone Africa, we explore how the internationalization trajectories of frontier economy firms may vary from those predicted by theory. The firms studied followed social, linguistic, cultural, and institutional gradients to internationalize first to France, rather than to neighboring countries, and did so in search of not only markets and resources but also legitimacy. In turn, the sales, resources, and legitimacy acquired in France supported further international expansion, sometimes even to neighboring countries. Although our insights derive from the experience of Francophone firms from Africa, we argue that for firms from all former colonies, the internationalization trajectory leads through the colonial center. Our findings underline the roles of legitimacy-seeking and network ties in the internationalization of frontier market firms and serve as a salutatory reminder of the lingering influence of colonial ties on international business.


Опираясь на опыт различных компаний из франкоязычной Африки, мы исследуем, как траектории интернационализации компаний в приграничной экономике могут отличаться от предсказанных теорией. Компании, которые были изучены в данной работе, следовали социальным, лингвистическим, культурным и институциональным факторам для интернационализации сначала во Францию, а не в соседние страны, в поисках не только рынков и ресурсов, но и легитимности. В свою очередь, рост продаж, ресурсы и легитимность, приобретенные во Франции, способствовали дальнейшей международной экспансии, в том числе в соседние страны. Несмотря на то, что наши выводы основаны на опыте франкоязычных компаний из Африки, мы утверждаем, что траектория интернационализации компаний из всех бывших колоний проходит через колониальный центр. Наши результаты подчеркивают важную роль легитимности и социальных связей в процессе интернационализации компаний в приграничной экономике, а также служат отличным напоминанием о продолжающемся влиянии колониальных связей на международный бизнес.

Basándonos en la experiencia de empresas de varios tamaños de África Francófona, exploramos como las trayectorias de internacionalización de empresas de economía de frontera pueden variar de aquellas predichas por la teoría. Las empresas estudiadas siguen gradientes sociales, lingüísticas, culturales e institucionales para internacionalizarse primero a Francia, en lugar qué a sus países vecinos, y lo hacen en búsqueda no sólo de mercados y recursos sino de legitimidad. En cambio, las ventas, recursos y legitimidad adquirida en Francia apoyaron una mayor expansión internacional, incluso a veces a países vecinos. Aunque nuestros conocimientos se derivan de la experiencia empresas francófonas de África, argumentamos que, para las empresas de todas las antiguas colonias, la trayectoria de internacionalización lleva a través del centro colonial. Nuestros hallazgos subrayan los roles de búsqueda de legitimidad y lazos de red en la internacionalización de empresa de mercado frontera y sirve como un recordatorio de la influencia persistente de los lazos coloniales en negocios internacionales.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Ram Mudambi (
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Accepted by: Deputy Editor Helena Barnard

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