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The Uppsala Model in the Twenty-First Century  

Jan-Erik Vahlne

When it was developed in 1977, the Uppsala internationalization process model (Uppsala model for short) had three basic premises: process ontology, behavioral assumptions, and the presence of uncertainty. Multinational business enterprises (MBEs), among all actors, were in their infancy, and their future could not be known. Later on, the model was extended to cover the evolution of the MBEs, with factors such as internationalization, globalization, and the development of characteristics prompting changes and making them possible. Likewise, the knowledge concept was substituted for by capabilities, operational and dynamic, fitting well the other concepts of the model. The neoclassical view of the firm as an independent unit on the market is considered unrealistic. Instead, firms, MBEs, and small and medium enterprises are seen as embedded in networks with other cooperating and competing actors. The mechanisms of the 2017 version, though, are the same as in the original version. Hopefully, the latest version can be used as a tool within the scope of the “theory of the firm” research and as a platform for more studies on causal mechanisms, later to be applied in normative conclusions. It follows that static cross-sectional statistical methods are not fully satisfactory. Application of dynamic analytical methods requires investment in longitudinal data collection, which is costly, and has to be performed by institutions rather than individuals. A dream is that the Uppsala model can be used as a stepping stone in the construction of realistic macro-level studies of the economy.