Since 1992, the national business systems (NBS) approach has been increasingly used to analyse not only firm characteristics, structures and strategies within NBS, but also the nature of international business and its interactions with both national and transnational institutions. In reviewing 25 years of NBS literature, we heed calls in IB journals urging researchers to use NBS notions and findings in IB research. Our systematic review of 96 articles analyses the patterns and contributions of NBS literature, revealing four thematic junctures: (1) comparative business systems, (2) firm internationalisation and the management/organisation inside MNCs, (3) the role of internationalisation in the development of organisational capabilities and innovation and (4) the emergence of transnational communities in and across firms and societies. Themes are described in terms of (a) the research questions (RQ) they focus on, (b) how NBS approach investigates the RQ and what are the major findings, (c) how IB frames and approaches the same RQ, (d) how does the NBS approach extend the perspectives of IB and (e) what are the problems faced by NBS in terms of developing further insights into the RQ. Our review contributes to the recent endeavour of IB research to institutionalism, encouraging a productive dialogue between IB and NBS research.