Mohammad Bakhtiar Rana

Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy, Visiting Scholar, University of Cambridge, UK, Member of the Study Board, Aalborg University Business School, Director, Sustainability Research Lab, AAUBS, Associate Professor

  • Fibigerstræde 11

    9220 Aalborg Øst



Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research profile

I am an Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy at Aalborg University Business School (AAUBS), Denmark, and a Visiting Scholar at University of Cambridge, UK. I am also the director of the Sustainability Lab at AAUBS.

My research focuses on diverse areas in international management and strategies with a focus on sustainable international strategic management, new technology-enabled value creation, and institutional impact on firm capabilities and sustainability-driven business modelling strategies such as Circular Economy.

My research has examined how European multinational enterprises develop and co-develop strategies and capabilities to earn synergy (acceptance and efficiency) in national business systems. It was the first study of its kind on Bangladeshi institutions and firms (national and multinationals) that explains how multinational subsidiaries (i.e., their activities and strategies) are accepted in Bangladeshi business systems, and what role national institutions, civil society actors, and transnational communities play in the process of firms’ internationalization, legitimation, and sustainability. 

My view of firm strategy is, it is shaped and reshaped by the interactions between firms (or collectivities of firms) and institutions in which they operate. Firms operate within the rules, norms, values, and logics of institutional systems, not in isolation. So, their missions, perspectives, goals, strategies, activities, and offerings are shaped by the nature and performance of institutional arrangements. However, the nature of national institutions changes over time. One of the external forces to change national institutions is the ways in which transnational institutions (e.g., UN, EU, OECD) become dominant and how MNEs collaborate with the transnational institutions, civil society & national institutional actors, and large firms (primarily local) to evolve a new set of rules of business. I view strategy development as a complex process. Understanding the role of institutions and their influence on firm strategies are, therefore, critical in this process. Unlike the view of institution as the macro environmental constraints, I consider institution as the internal logics and the external conditions providing resources and constraints for firms to shape strategies to fit in the context.

The following three themes can well describe my research areas: 1) Multinational Corporations’ strategies in relation to internationalization, capabilities, legitimation, and sustainable management in emerging markets. 2) Business modelling including sustainability-driven business modelling and its impact on and relationship with global value chain, climate change, and circular economy transition. 3) Firm's technology adoption and digital strategies (Artificial intelligence, 3D, & Modular Innovation) for value creation and sustainable adaptation.

Despite multiple areas on which my studies focus, the core concentration of my research is on the cross-border management and multinationals strategies using institutionalism and business systems perspective. I aim to understand the strategic choices, antecedents, and mechanisms affecting sustainable international strategic management. 

In relation to research and consulting, I have worked on a number of large multinational corporations such as Novo Nordisk, Arla, Glaxo Smith Clyne (GSK), Nestle, Telenor (Grameenphone), Tesla, iRobot Romba, H&M, Bestseller, Oticon, and Kube Data. In addition, I have also studied Bangladeshi multinational corporations such as Walton Electronics, DBL Apparel Company, Micro Fibre Apparel Group, GMS Apparel Group, ABA Apparel Group, and Interstoff Apparel Limited, Shasha Danims etc.

Recently, I completed an action-project in 2022 on ‘The Practical Tools for Sustainable Business Model Innovation for SMEs in Denmark and Sweden’ (3 million DKK funded by EU). I was a principal investigator and member of the steering committee for the project. In 2022, I also completed another project on ‘Artificial Intelligence, Value creation and Adaptation in International Context’, which I led in collaboration with the Department of IT & Media Technology at AAU, funded by Aalborg University Business School (AAUBS).

As a principal investigator and the leader, I have received a grant of 12 million DKK to study the circular economy transition in Bangladesh's apparel industry. This is the first project on circular economy research in apparel industry, funded by Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project has commenced in October 2022 and will continue till 2027.

However, my another on-going project on the apparel industry is: ‘Climate Change and Global Value Chains in Textile and Garments industry in Bangladesh’ (11.7 million DKK) in collaboration with Copenhagen Business School, Roskilde University, DK, and BRAC University, Bangladesh. I am a principal researcher and the lead from AAUBS in this consortium project.

At present, my current projects and researches heavily focus on understanding the dynamics of Apparel industry transition with an aim to explore firms' transition to circular business model, capability reconfiguration in GVC, technology adoption, and the impact of institutions on green industrialization in the context of circular economy adoption.

I am a member of the Dean’s Signature Project Committee on Sustainability-driven Research at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, and Rector's 'Climate Change Mitigation Strategy committeee at AAU.

I have co-edited a book titled 'Upgrading the Global Garment Industry', published by Edward Elgar, UK, which is the first book of its kind to focus on Global Garments Industry from the perspective of three under-focused areas - internationalisation, capabilities, and sustainability. I have brought the garments industry into the forefront of research in international business and strategy, which has been ignored for long, but that has affected the international business of many emerging economies and influenced the history of international business of many western countries in the 17th and 18th century in the colonial era.

I primarily use qualitative method including case studies, qualitative data analysis techniques, comparative case analysis and storytelling science. However, I am interested to work with panel data and quantitative techniques.

I have published in leading academic journals such as Global Strategy Journal, Technovation, International Business Review, Journal of International Management, and so forth.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

International Management and Strategy, PhD, Rethinking business system theory from the perspective of civil society, transnational community, and legitimacy: Strategies of European MNCs in Bangladesh’’

… → 2014

Award Date: 1 Jun 2014

Specialization in International Marketing, MSc-IB, University of Groningen

… → 2005

Award Date: 1 Jan 2005

International Business , MSc, University of Stirling

… → 2004

Award Date: 1 Jan 2005

Marketing, MBA, The University of Rajshahi


Award Date: 31 Dec 1996

Marketing, BBS (Honours), The University of Rajshahi


Award Date: 31 Dec 1994

External positions

Visiting Scholar, University of Cambridge

2022 → …


  • Business Economics and Trade
  • International Business
  • Strategy and management
  • Global value chains
  • Internationalization
  • Civil society- Transnational Communities
  • Business Models
  • Discourse and Society
  • Sentiments
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Legitimation
  • Institutional theory
  • comparative capitalism
  • Circular Economy
  • Innovation
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Management and Organization
  • Entrepreneurship
  • National Business Systems
  • Business Models
  • sustainable strategic management
  • Capabilities
  • value creation
  • governance
  • capability development
  • competitive advantage
  • Sustainability-driven business modelling strategies
  • multinational corporations
  • Problem Based Learning
  • Pedagogy
  • Qualitative case studies
  • storytelling


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