Welcome to AIB Insights’ annual awards issue. Since 2013, AIB Insights has dedicated an issue to finalists for the prestigious Peter J. Buckley and Mark Casson AIB Dissertation Award. For the eighth consecutive year, we proudly feature articles by the four award finalists summarizing insights from their cutting-edge dissertation research. Converting to digital distribution allows us to essentially publish a double issue by also presenting a Topic Forum on this year’s AIB Presidential Recognition Award. This award honored the 30th anniversary of the World Investment Report (WIR) and its contribution to the field of international business. We include commentaries by the three leaders of the WIR report across its 30 issues, and two articles detailing the scope and impact of these reports.

As is our tradition, our first article is by the dissertation award winner Noman Shaheer. We then use alphabetical order to sequence the other articles. Noman Shaheer, from the University of Sydney (PhD awarded by University of South Carolina) summarizes his dissertation on “Reappraising International Business in a Digital Arena: Barriers, Strategies, and Context for Digital Internationalization.” Dr. Shaheer examines internationalization challenges facing born-digital firms. Despite globally available innovations, these firms face heavy competition to meet diverse user preferences and attract new users. Some born-digital firms strategically leverage key users’ word-of-mouth and product upgrades to attract new users in multiple countries.

Guus Hendriks from the Amsterdam Business School of the University of Amsterdam (PhD awarded by Erasmus University Rotterdam) summarizes his dissertation on “Multinational enterprises and limits to international growth.” Dr. Hendriks addresses growth constraints on multinational enterprises by specifically focusing on the role of their home country activities. He details how home country activities limit attention MNE managers can devote to internationalization. In an emerging market context, he discusses an ‘upgrading paradox’ that challenges firms facing important recombination barriers to growth.

Patricia Klopf from the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (PhD awarded by WU Vienna) summarizes her dissertation on “Nonmarket Strategies across Complex Institutional Contexts.” Dr. Klopf’s dissertation notes how managers of foreign subsidiaries increasingly face nonmarket pressures, which require them to develop nonmarket strategy, particularly when facing liabilities of foreignness. She explores the drivers and potential benefits of nonmarket strategies.

Finally, Chang Liu from Rutgers University - Newark (PhD awarded by Indiana University) summarizes her PhD titled “In an Era of Disruption: Multinationals’ Responses to Host Country Political Violence.” Dr. Liu’s dissertation investigated how MNEs respond to violence, such as terrorist attacks, in host countries. Examining factors influencing top management teams’ decision-making sheds light on the role of managerial interpretation in how MNEs respond to critical incidences.

On behalf of the AIB community, we thank this year’s Buckley and Casson AIB Dissertation Award Selection Committee for their invaluable and dedicated efforts and service: David Reeb (Chair), Marcus Larsen, Tatiana Kostova, and Catherine Welch.

Complementing our dissertation summary articles, we present the AIB Insights topic forum: World Investment Report (WIR) at 30. This forum emerged from a special award session at the 2020 AIB Annual Meeting where The United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) received the AIB Presidential Recognition Award. AIB President Jeremy Clegg gave the award at the conference and his article “World Investment Report at 30” introduces our Topic Forum.

Karl Sauvant, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, was in charge of the World Investment Report when it was first produced in 1991, and continued in this role until 2005 for a total of 15 WIRs. He presents his article “The WIR at 30: Contributions to National and Global Investment Policymaking.” In this article, Dr. Sauvant examines WIR’s focus on the interaction between multinationals and governments with a policy recommendation goal. He then discusses reasons for this focused development, along with UNCTAD’s success in achieving these goals.

Next Anne Miroux, Cornell University, presents her article, “UN and Business: The WIR Prequel.” Dr. Miroux was the second person in charge of the WIR and held this role from 2005 to 2009. She discusses how the WIR aligned with the key UN business goal to enhance contributions of multinational enterprises to economic growth and development. Her article highlights how Report topics selected, local stakeholders’ involvement in the production process, and academic collaboration all contributed to that goal.

James Zhan of UNCTAD assumed leadership of the World Investment Report in 2009 for the 2010 report and continues in this role to date. In his article, “The WIR@30: Paradigm Shift and a New Research Agenda for the 2020s,” Dr. Zhan reviews the WIR’s evolution over the past 30 years with particular focus on the last decade. He details how successive WIRs addressed key challenges and shifts in the investment-development paradigm. He also discusses five mega-forces driving the transformation of global value chains and outlines a multi-disciplinary research agenda for the next decade.

Shifting to our academic contributors, Peter Buckley, University of Leeds, authored the piece “International Business Research and the World Investment Report: “Big Questions” and Grand Challenges.” His article argues that, in line with the focus of international business (IB) research, the WIR has sought “Big Questions” rather than “Grand Challenges.” He points out that Grand Challenges may exceed the WIR’s mission or be too broad for a single report. Nonetheless, he suggests several Grand Challenges that could be the focus of future WIRs.

In her article “Whither WIR (Redux)?”, Lorraine Eden, Texas A&M University, briefly reviews the first 30 World Investment Reports and then looks forward by asking, “What Next?” Dr. Eden argues that future WIRs should address a combination of Big Questions and Grand Challenges. She then provides a “baker’s dozen” list of 13 potential future themes.

We are grateful to all who have contributed to this issue and are excited by the potential digital distribution affords us to expand our coverage of applied insights related to AIB Conference award-nominated and award-winning research. These articles provide depth and impact into these topics well beyond the benefits derived from those who attended related conference sessions. Thus, our awards issues represent a valuable service to the AIB community and these issues help ensure that AIB Insights continues featuring “Applied International Business Insights.”