Risk can be perceived in the following three different ways: (1) risk as danger – when the consequences are negative; (2) risk as uncertainty – when the variables are unknown and cannot be measured; and (3) risk as opportunity – when there is a positive return. The internationalization process is when companies expand to the international market to be exposed to high risks, which can negatively influence their performance. However, internationalization can also provide an opportunity for positive returns. Therefore, to understand how risk is analyzed in the internationalization of companies, a rigorous search for case studies was carried out. Accordingly, meta-synthesis by Hoon (2013) proved to be methodologically effective. For the meta-synthesis, 24 internationalization risks were analyzed from 19 articles based on 201 interviews from 94 companies across 17 different countries. We conclude that different internationalization processes (gradual or rapid) can result in different risk perceptions, and that companies do not avoid risks, they manage them. Our theoretical contribution highlights different perceptions of risks for each internationalization process. We propose a theoretical framework derived from this first meta-synthesis on the subject in the literature.


born global, case study, internationalization, qualitative meta-synthesis, Uppsala Model

Author Bio(s)

Weber Henrique Radael is a professor of Business Administration at the State University of Paraná (UNESPAR). He holds a Master's in Business Administration from State University of Maringá (UEM) and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Business Administration at Federal University of Paraná (UFPR). His research interests involve international business, internationalization process, born global firms, service firms, risk, misconduct, strategy, and innovation. He is also a member of the research group Strategy: Processes, Practices, and Decision at UFPR. Please direct correspondence to weber.radael@gmail.com.

Gustavo Abib is an Associate Professor at Paraná Federal University (UFPR). He received his PhD from the Business School of Federal Univesity of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil. His research interests include risk, international business, qualitative research and organizational strategy. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: gustavo.abib@gmail.com.

Adriana Roseli Wunsch Takahashi is Ph.D. Senior Professor at Federal University of Paraná – Brazil. Please direct correspondence to adrianarwt@gmail.com.


We would like to thank to the editors and reviewer for their suggestions and comments that helped make this article publishable, especially Daniel Wulff for his valuable contributions. Likewise, we would like to thank Editage (www.editage.com) for English language editing. Finally, we would like to thank Samantha Frohlich for the final proofreading to identify specific risk terms that were not well explained.

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