The research that first established international business (IB) as a field was carried out by John H. Dunning at Southampton University in the UK (1958) and Stephen Hymer at MIT in the US (1960). John Dunning moved to the University of Reading in the UK in 1964 to set up a new department of economics. Under his leadership it became one of the two foremost centers in the world for IB research, together with the team led by Raymond Vernon at the Harvard Business School in the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, there has been an explosion in both international business and in research attempting to better understand this defining phenomenon of our era.

In 1989, Rutgers University, under the direction of John Dunning, started a dedicated PhD in International Business. The initial emphasis was on how International Business can facilitate (or, in some cases, hinder) the technological competitiveness of countries. Rutgers was one of the first PhD programs to recognize that innovation is systemic (firms are part of a wider system) - for example, the role of national policies in innovation has been covered in doctoral coursework for more than 15 years. 

In 2000 Professor Dunning retired from his full-time position at Rutgers, although he remains associated with the program and gives an annual series of lectures and classes for PhD students at Rutgers, and provides advice to some that are preparing their dissertations. In 2002 John Cantwell was appointed as the new Professor of Global Business at Rutgers, and he has since led and coordinated the IB PhD program. He had been one of John Dunning's PhD students at Reading, and has been the major pioneer in the field of innovation and technology creation in multinational corporations. He is a former President of the European International Business Academy (EIBA) and serves as the Secretary of the EIBA Fellows. Professor Cantwell's former students have twice won the prestigious Richard N Farmer award of the Academy of International Business (AIB) for the best dissertation in international business - Dr Paz Tolentino (now of Birbeck College, London, UK) in 1989, and Dr Camilla Noonan (now of University College, Dublin, Ireland) in 2003. He continues to work with various former PhD students and post-doctoral researchers that have since gone on to professorships at other universities, and so he maintains an international research network.

The emphasis on technological innovation remains at the center of our PhD and research program, but it has become increasingly clear that what has been termed "globalization" affects almost all aspects of human lives. The IB group has therefore also forged closer links with scholars emphasizing the political dimension of globalization, as well as scholars who investigate the cultural and human resource implications of increased international contact. In a recent study (by Trieschmann, Dennis, Northcraft and Niemi in the Academy of Management Journal) Rutgers was ranked 8th in the US for the quality of faculty research output in the IB field, and 34th overall across all the business and management fields.