Adaptive learning in international business

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Building on Daniel Levinthal’s seminal theories on learning, adaptation, and innovation, this article elucidates an adaptive view of organizational learning undertaken by multinational enterprises (MNEs). Levinthal’s perspectives have tremendous implications for theorizing and examining processes, pathways, and mechanisms of dynamic learning for MNEs competing in a complex environment. This article extends these perspectives, considering unique organizational traits and environmental characteristics facing MNEs for a more nuanced understanding of contexts in which adaptive learning creates global competitive advantage. Discussion also includes Levinthal’s perspectives that are not yet adequately extended to, but valuable for, IB research, such as learning mindfulness, cognitive search, organizational architecture for adaptation, and co-evolution with technological change. We offer additional research questions as well as possible solutions to adaptive learning for international business.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1547-1567
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • MNEs
  • adaptation
  • complexity
  • innovation
  • organizational learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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