China’s Belt and Road Initiative and international business: The overlooked centrality of politics
What is the significance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for international business research? Most studies in the field have approached this question from the perspective of the individual firm or industry, with an emphasis on its business or economic impact. Yet the BRI is, at its core, a political initiative that plays out domestically and internationally. Our objective for this commentary is to complement the existing IB literature on the BRI by outlining the domestic and geopolitical objectives of the BRI and linking them to big, new IB research questions. Domestically, we stress the importance of the BRI for the legitimacy of Communist Party rule in the context of slowing growth and overcapacity. At the international level, we explore the role of the BRI in advancing China’s geopolitical position, not least vis-à-vis the United States, as well as its potential to provide a nucleus around which a new, alternative world economic order may form. We conclude with a discussion of implications for policy and business research in IB.
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