Social media as a data gathering tool for international business qualitative research: opportunities and challenges
Cornelius Smith, Erika
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Citation (published version)Marcus Goncalves, Erika Cornelius Smith. 2018. "Social media as a data gathering tool for international business qualitative research: opportunities and challenges." Journal of Transnational Management, Volume 23, Issue 2-3, pp. 66 - 97. https://doi.org/10.1080/15475778.2018.1475181
Lusophone African (LA) multinational enterprises (MNEs) are becoming a significant pan-African and global economic force regarding their international presence and influence. However, given the extreme poverty and lack of development in their home markets, many LA enterprises seeking to internationalize lack resources and legitimacy in international markets. Compared to higher income emerging markets, Lusophone enterprises in Africa face more significant challenges in their internationalization efforts. Concomitantly, conducting significant international business (IB) research in these markets to understand these MNEs internationalization strategies can be a very daunting task. The fast-growing rise of social media on the Internet, however, provides an opportunity for IB researchers to examine new phenomena in these markets in innovative ways. Unfortunately, for various reasons, qualitative researchers in IB have not fully embraced this opportunity. This article studies the use of social media in qualitative research in the field of IB. It offers an illustrative case based on qualitative research on internationalization modes of LAMNEs conducted by the authors in Angola and Mozambique using social media to identify and qualify the population sample, as well as interact with subjects and collect data. It discusses some of the challenges of using social media in those regions of Africa and suggests how scholars can design their studies to capitalize on social media and corresponding data as a tool for qualitative research. This article underscores the potential opportunities and challenges inherent in the use of social media in IB-oriented qualitative research, providing recommendations on how qualitative IB researchers can design their studies to capitalize on data generated by social media.