Firms’ internationalization paths and their antecedents has become a major topic of recent international business (IB) literature. Indeed, a lively debate about the adequate degree of international diversification has recently emerged. To challenge the traditional temporal and spatial constructs proposed by the international theories, the profound restructuring of the container port sector - driven by the international opening of local markets, the evolution of competitive paradigms, and the overseas expansion of private stevedores - makes it an ideal setting. Using the strategic management and IB literature, the paper aims to demonstrate and measure the abnormal patterns of international diversification embarked on by container port multinational enterprises (MNEs). The analytical lens adopted examines two specific dimensions of internationalization: (i) time, i.e., the pace and rhythm of international diversification, and (ii) space, i.e., the geographic scope of a firm, modeled as inter- and intra-regional diversification. The findings suggest that some container port MNEs leapfrog some of the logical sequential internationalization phases. Moreover, even when latecomers pursue fast and irregular expansion patterns to catch up with the leaders, their geographic scope remains lower than that of the pioneering MNEs.
Keywords: International diversification, container port industry, pace, rhythm, abnormal patterns
Jel Code: F33, L91, M10, L10