The Internationalisation of Firms in a Policy-Driven Industrial Cluster: The Case of Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor

  • Christopher Richardson

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis investigates how operating in a policy-driven industrial cluster built from scratch by policymakers affects the internationalisation of firms. Following the success of well-known clusters like Silicon Valley, policymakers in many countries often seek to replicate these examples, anticipating the offset of various advantages as a result. One of the main perceived externalities associated with developing an industrial cluster is that it can potentially provide a foundation for enhancing firm internationalisation. However, extant literature has not adequately addressed whether and how a policy-driven industrial cluster affects the international growth of firms. In fact, research examining the impact on internationalisation of clusters as a whole, whether policy-driven or otherwise, is relatively scant, despite the importance of locational factors in International Business (IB) research, as stipulated by the eminent John Dunning, among others. The purpose of this research, therefore, is to generate fresh insights and understanding into how operating in a policy-driven industrial cluster impinges on firm internationalisation. The context of the study is the case of Malaysia's Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). This case was selected for two key reasons. Firstly, it fits with the definition of a policy-driven industrial cluster, namely that its birth was the result of the direct actions of policymakers, and secondly, one of its primary objectives is to enhance firm internationalisation, which makes it a highly suitable case to examine.The research adopts the interpretivist paradigm, with an embedded single-case study deemed the most appropriate methodology for responding to the research question. Multiple sources of evidence were employed, with the primary focus being on personal interviews with key managers in 10 firms, and representatives from the MSC cluster and a private organisation that works to support firms and entrepreneurs in the cluster. The findings suggest that the impacts of a policy-driven cluster on internationalisation are largely associated with marketing and financial support from policymakers, rather than deriving from the geographic co-location of actors, as suggested by much of the existing literature on 'organic' clusters. The key contributions of the research are grounded in the fact that it focuses on internationalisation within a particular context (a policy-driven cluster) which, as noted, has been largely overlooked by IB scholars. In particular, fresh insight has been gained into some of the potential motivations behind firms joining such clusters, and the nature of their impact on internationalisation. The study also stresses various important implications that emerge for practitioners and policymakers. The thesis concludes by highlighting the limitations of the study and offers some suggestions for future related research.
Date of Award31 Dec 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMohammad Yamin (Supervisor) & Rudolf R. Sinkovics (Supervisor)

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