Assessing Competitive Advantage of Emerging Markets in Knowledge Intensive Business Services

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Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing


The dramatic growth and international scope of knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) are evident in emerging markets such as China and India. Nations, like firms, seek to capitalize on their available resources and capabilities (e.g. people, technology, skills) in order to build and maintain core competencies in certain industry sectors. This paper has the following objectives: to discuss the classification of KIBS, to marshal conceptual and statistical evidence on KIBS in major emerging markets, to compare and contrast selected major emerging markets in regard to their KIBS activities, and to discuss policy implications.

Design/methodology/approach - In this conceptual paper, extant literature is reviewed and discussed pertaining to the KIBS sectors. Several existing data sources are used to assess the comparative performance of major emerging markets in the KIBS sectors.

Findings - The emphasis is on finding comparative longitudinal statistics that are useful for comparison and contrast among major emerging markets. The analysis indicates that while the major emerging markets are building competitive advantage by focusing on knowledge-intensive business services, their progress differs sharply. For example, China shows the lead, followed by India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, and Indonesia. Smaller nations lag behind these in most indicators. It is evident that leading major emerging nations have not reached parity with highly industrialized countries.

Research limitations/implications - The results show ranking and contribution of various major nations in the global knowledge economy, but additional time series and analysis are needed to assess comparative rankings. However, the classification and the indicators illustrated here offer a panoramic, comparative picture over the past decade. Using international business theories, research can develop statistical models to explain foreign market entry strategies of knowledge-intensive service firms.

Practical implications - The paper is of value to managers considering entry and/or expansion into major emerging markets in various sub-sectors of knowledge-intensive sectors. The specific industry and function pursued by a firm need to be identified and matched up with host nation characteristics (e.g. more software design and pharmaceutical research in India v. more manufacturing design and R&D facility in China). The paper also provides guidelines to policy makers to sustain their country's competitive advantage in the KIBS sectors.

Originality/value - The paper looks at knowledge-intensive business services in major emerging markets. It offers both conceptual contributions and statistical evidence that key nations differ in their activities in regard to such high-level and complex service offerings.

Original Citation

Javalgi, R. R. G., Gross, A. C., Joseph, W. B., & Granot, E. (2011). Assessing competitive advantage of emerging markets in knowledge intensive business services. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 26(3), 171-180. doi:10.1108/08858621111115895