International intermediaries: A systematic literature review and research agenda

Article


Virtanen, Y., Jiang, Y., You, W. and Cai, H. 2022. International intermediaries: A systematic literature review and research agenda. European Management Journal. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2022.11.005
TypeArticle
TitleInternational intermediaries: A systematic literature review and research agenda
AuthorsVirtanen, Y., Jiang, Y., You, W. and Cai, H.
Abstract

Intermediaries such as trading companies, agents and merchants have played a key role in international business for centuries. Despite the growing importance of understanding the phenomenon of intermediaries, there are misperceptions and confusions regarding the concept and value of intermediaries, which result in disconnected and fragmented research findings. This study – based on an analysis of 101 articles published between 1985 and 2021 – aims to synthesise the conceptual developments and provide a more integrated understanding of both sourcing and trading intermediaries whose activities extend across national borders. The findings help to pave the way for further academic research by highlighting what we currently know and do not know about intermediaries, outlining the theoretically grounded research agenda for each of the three identified themes: (1) What are intermediaries? (2) When should intermediaries be used? and (3) How do intermediaries work and develop? The study shows that despite decades of research on this topic, the literature to date has been limited and scattered. Researchers are encouraged to consider the role of intermediaries in a bigger picture where intermediated exchanges exist not only in dyadic relationships, but also in triads or even in broader webs of networks.

KeywordsIntermediaries, Systematic literature review, International trade, Global sourcing
Sustainable Development Goals9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
LanguageEnglish
PublisherElsevier
JournalEuropean Management Journal
ISSN0263-2373
Publication dates
Online23 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited28 Nov 2022
Submitted10 Mar 2022
Accepted22 Nov 2022
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Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2022.11.005
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