PAGE 30jJOURNAL OF BUSINESS STRATEGYjVOL. 33 NO. 1 2012Downloaded by Loughborough University At 17:41 03 January 2017 (PT)
Methodology and dataChoice of methodThis study employs a case study approach. The adoption of this approach is based on thefunction of the research questions that have been addressed. The drivers for expansion ofinternational retailers are still understudied, and these issues require more theory building. Aqualitative case study approach is particularly suitable when the aim is to understand the‘how’ questions in the decision making process (Eisenhardt, 1989). The case study researchundertaken here serves to develop theory on the contingent factors that influence theperformance of post-entry firms.Research design and data collectionGiven the research questions and theoretical concerns in this paper, a multiple caseresearch design has been adopted. Cases are treated as independent experiments fortheoretical replication and pattern matching (Yin, 2003). Five retailers were chosen:Wal-Mart (American), Carrefour (French), Metro (German), Tesco (British), and Heivado(Japanese) with the following rationale: First, these retailers represent the major formatsforeign retailers transferred into China: supermarket (Wal-Mart), hypermarket (Carrefour),and wholesale-club (Metro), mainly adopted by European and North American retailers, anddepartment store (Heiwado), mainly adopted by Asian retailers (Wang, 2003). Second, thechosen cases include the four leading foreign retail giants in China: Wal-Mart, Carrefour,Metro and Tesco (Wanget al., 2007), and they are very large retail organisations byinternational sales worldwide (Dawson, 2007). Third, access was an important factor inselection of these cases. This UK based study on China’s market by a native Chineseresearcher benefited from having access to both Chinese and British managers from the fivecompanies mentioned above as well as other key experts in China. The overall researchdesign allows the author to analyse what factors influence foreign retailers’ expansion andimproveourunderstandingonfirminternationalisationforbothsuccessfulandnon-successful firms.Twelve in-depth interviews were conducted in 2005 with senior managers at regional andnational levels who were responsible for or thoroughly understood the expansion decisionsin China, The interview questions focused on chosen firms’ internationalization process inChina from 1995. Moreover, expert views were sought from China Chain Store and FranchiseAssociation (CCFA) and a major company supplying retailers. These senior managers wereconsidered as ‘‘elite informants’’ of these companies (Yin, 2003). Interviews with Chinesemanagers and officials were conducted in Mandarin Chinese; those with foreign managersin English. The duration of each interview extended up to two hours. Note making and animmediate transcript were prepared immediately after each interview to ensure freshmemory of the conversations (Whyte, 1994).