IB researchers: Culture and heritage as a resource to conquer foreign markets – Lessons from the Japanese craft sector


Internationalizing can be difficult for small business, especially if their products are grounded in domestic cultural traditions and require the possession of some degree of cultural knowledge to be understood, used, and valued by foreign customers. Difficult, but not impossible. Three different “cultural strategies” are available to them if they wish to succeed on an international scale, reveals research by Innan Sasaki (Warwick Business School), Niina Nummela (University of Turku) and Davide Ravasi (University College London).

Firms operating in sectors ranging from heritage craft, food and beverage, textiles, and the cultural industries are increasingly looking at international markets as a way to compensate declining domestic demand for traditional products. Successfully expanding abroad, however, may require managers to explore opportunities to adapt the way products are designed, produced and sold, to bridge domestic and foreign values, traditions and preferences.

The research team looked at how small businesses can navigate tensions between adjusting traditional products to foreign taste, while at the same time respecting their integrity and authenticity. The findings highlight three strategies that can be used, alternatively or in conjunction: selective targeting, cultural adaptation and/or cultural transposition. Local distributors and foreign designers are important cultural intermediaries in supporting these strategies.

By highlighting alternative strategies to support growth through internationalization in traditional sectors, findings from this study have important implications for both managers and policy-makers interested in safeguarding cultural heritage and traditions, and using them as a source for competitive advantage in international trade.

Link to full article on the website of Journal of International Business Studies https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-020-00330-0

Created 19.05.2020 | Updated 19.05.2020