Internationalization as a performative journey: a case of producer cooperatives

Ziad Elsahn, Frank Siedlok, Lisa Callagher, Stefan Korber

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


International Business has focused predominantly on multinational enterprises and neglected other types of economic actors, such as cooperatives, that play an important role in constituting global value chains. We argue that, considering their important contributions to the world’s economy, potential for promoting inclusive and sustainable growth, and contribution to addressing environmental sustainability challenges, cooperatives warrant IB scholars’ attention. In this paper, we focus on a neglected issue in the IB literature- the internationalization of cooperatives, in order to understand how they can manage their internationalization process successfully while maintaining their pro-social mission. To investigate this, we employed a longitudinal single qualitative case study approach to study the internationalization process of Zespri, a grower-owned producer cooperative and the world’s largest kiwifruit marketer with a presence in more than 50 countries. Using a performativity perspective, we show how performing internationalization involves a process of experimentation and contestation between diverse actors in the cooperative. Specifically, we conceptualise internationalization as a performative journey that is constituted by recursive cycles of theorizing, experimenting, contesting, and adjusting among organizational actors. We extend Trevino and Doh (2021) discourse-based view of internationalization by integrating insights from the performativity literature to emphasize not only the discursive but also the material aspects of performativity thus providing an in-depth understanding of the managerial activities and interactions that underpins the internationalization process.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


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