Dr Carole Couper

Dr Carole Couper

The Department of Strategy and International Business
Associate Professor in Strategy and International Business

Contact details

Birmingham Business School
University House
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Carole Couper is an Associate Professor in Strategy and International Business at Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, UK.

Following an undergraduate degree in Chinese Studies in her native France, Carole’s earlier career began in industry where she worked as an international sales and marketing senior executive within the instrumentation and Food & Drink sectors.

Carole teaches on Executive MBAs and the IB MSc programmes in the areas of strategy, international business and international cooperative strategies, where she draws from her international research and international industry experience. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (now Advance HE).

Carole’s research interests include small firm internationalisation between institutionally-distant markets, and qualitative research methods in a cross-national context. She has published in the Journal of International Business Studies, the Asia-Pacific Journal of Management and Management & Organization Review.

Carole is interested in supervising PhD students in the following areas:

  • SME internationalisation
  • Cooperative internationalisation strategies
  • Institutional distance (formal and informal institutions) and firm internationalisation
  • Social networks in the context of emerging and developed economies
  • Relationship-building and trust development between Western and Chinese firms/actors
  • Novel methodologies and techniques for research that crosses institutional and linguistic boundaries


  • Associate Professor in Strategy and International Business
  • PhD in Management 2016
  • MSc Management Research 2011
  • Chinese Studies Licence (French degree/BA equivalent) 1989  


Dr Carole Couper joined Birmingham Business School on 1st August 2022 as Associate Professor in Strategy and International Business. She previously worked as a Lecturer in Executive and Professional Education at Sheffield University Management School.

Prior to entering Academia, Carole worked in industry in the Instrumentation, Life Science and Food & Drink sectors. Her experience as an International Sales & Marketing executive included senior roles within Scottish & Newcastle plc (McEwan’s Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale) and Diageo plc (Guinness, J&B whisky and Malibu Rum). Notably, she was responsible for managing the team tasked with the brewing under licence of McEwan’s 1856 - the first ever British Ale brewed in China – in partnership with state-owned Chongqing Brewery (Sichuan Province, South-West China). More recently, she has also worked as a Consultant for the Life Science sector, both in the UK and China.

Her undergraduate degree in Chinese studies, and her time in industry witnessing the numerous challenges encountered by British SMEs in their efforts to internationalise to the Chinese market, later informed her decision to engage in a PhD in Management (International Business). Her doctoral research explored how and why UK SMEs were able to develop internationalisation networks between the UK and China despite significant institutional differences. She graduated with a PhD in Management at the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, and her thesis was subsequently awarded the 2016 Adam Smith Business School Alumni Prize for PhD Excellence.

Carole’s research interests revolve around internationalisation and networks that span distant institutional frameworks, such as the UK and China. She is particularly interested in understanding how smaller firms and individual boundary-spanners may manage and reconcile institutional differences in the context of internationalisation. Her current research is also concerned with the challenges of conducting qualitative research when studying phenomena that span multiple institutional frameworks and involve the collection and interpretation of bilingual – and cross-institutional - data. She has published in the Journal of International Business Studies, the Asia-Pacific Journal of Management and Management & Organization Review.

A French citizen and long-term UK resident, Carole has also lived and worked in Belgium, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.


Carole teaches on the following programmes:

Other activities

Carole is a member of the Academy of International Business and British Academy of Management (BAM).

Within BAM, she has joined the Steering Committee of the Research Methods Special Interest Group (RM SIG), and she is a member of the Executive Education Working Group (EEWG).

Carole has been invited to join both the Journal of International Business Studies’ and the Management and Organization Review’s Review Boards. She has been the recipient of excellent reviewer awards from the Journal of International Business Studies (2021) and the Family Business Review (2015; 2014).


Reuber, A. R., Alkhaled, S., Barnard, H., Couper, C., & Sasaki, I. 2022. Something Borrowed, Something New: Challenges in Using Qualitative Methods to Study Under-researched International Business Phenomena. Journal of International Business Studies, forthcoming.

Couper, C., & Piekkari, R. “Translation and Multilingual Knowledge Production: A Dialogical Approach” (ID# 453), Academy of International Business Conference, June-July 2021, Online.

Couper, C., & Piekkari, R. “Multilingual knowledge production in cross-language research”, Groupe d’Etudes Management et Langage (GEM&L) Conference, May 2021, Online.

Couper, C., Reuber, A. C., & Prashantham, S. 2019. Lost that lovin’ feeling: The erosion of trust between small, high-distance partners. Journal of International Business Studies, 51(3): 326–352. (CABS 4*)

Couper, C. 2019. Institutional Bridging for SME High-distance Internationalisation to China: A Contextualised Explanation. Management and Organization Review, 15(2):307-340. (CABS 3)

Couper, C. & Warner, K., “The dark side of entrepreneurial networks: exploring the failure of a medical device international new venture”, British Academy of Management Conference, September 2019, Aston University, Birmingham, UK.

Couper, C. “SME internationalisation across high institutional distance: a contextualised explanation”, Academy of International Business Conference, June 2019, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Prashantham, S., Eranova, M., & Couper, C. 2018. Globalization, Entrepreneurship and Paradox Thinking. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 35(1): 1-9. (CABS 3)

Couper, C. “Retuning High Distance SME Internationalisation: From Dissonance to Consonance through Institutional Hybridity”, Academy of International Business – UK and Ireland Chapter, 12-14 April 2018.

Couper, C. “A Dialectical Approach to Sense Making: Developing Internationalisation Knowledge across Institutional and Linguistic Boundaries”, Academy of International Business – UKI Chapter 7-9 April 2016.

Emerald Critical Perspectives on International Business Award for Best Paper (for the most innovative paper which tackles a new or under-researched topic, and which contributes to the understanding of the impact of international business on society.)

Couper, C. & Reuber, R. A. 2013. “Success in Fast-Growth Markets: Strategies for Smaller Players”, The Conference Board of Canada. (Policy paper)

Couper, C & Prashantham, S. “Lost in translation: Relationship-building challenges of the inexperienced INV in a high distance market”, Academy of International Business Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, 2013.

View all publications in research portal

Policy experience

Carole has worked on the development of a policy brief at the request of the Conference Board of Canada on the internationalisation of small Canadian firms in fast-growth emerging markets: Couper, C. & Reuber, R. A. 2013. “Success in Fast-Growth Markets: Strategies for Smaller Players”, The Conference Board of Canada.

The briefing was then presented and well received at a workshop aimed at Canadian policymakers and entrepreneurs hosted by the Business Development Bank of Canada in Montreal.