Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 October 2020
Kazakhstan is a relatively new country that has been a nation-state since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The country has been transitioning to a market economy, with property rights being established and private entrepreneurship being encouraged. The transition has led to some firms making inroads into international markets. For this study, we chose five companies – Air Astana, Sberbank Kazakhstan, Kamaz Kazakhstan, Sportmaster, and Tsesna. Of these, Sberbank and Kamaz originated in Soviet times; Sport Master evolved in the immediate aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union; and Air Astana and Tsesna are relatively new domestic firms that have tried to develop specific competitive advantages. Some of the capabilities that these companies initially developed were in product innovation, branding, distribution, and human resources. A more general competency that all these companies developed, first in their home market but then in foreign markets, is the ability to survive and succeed in institutional conditions that are still evolving and changing. While new institutions were still developing and building credibility, networks and political connections were still important and played a role in most of these markets.