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Cross-cultural influences on organizational learning in MNCS: The case of Japanese companies in China

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  • Hong, Jacky F.L.
  • Snell, Robin Stanley
  • Easterby-Smith, Mark
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    Abstract

    This paper draws on the social construction perspective and on social learning theory to examine the cross-cultural influences on organizational learning in MNCs. Social learning theory suggests that constructive engagement and member solidarity are key constituents of organization-based collective learning. Literature suggests, however, that cross-cultural differences in assumptions about social participation by organization members may impair organizational learning. The paper also reports a qualitative study, conducted at five Japanese-invested manufacturing companies in the Pearl River Delta, China. The research found that managers perceived Chinese frontline workers as lacking constructive engagement and member solidarity as compared with their Japanese counterparts, thus limiting organizational learning, and attributed these perceived differences to deep-seated cultural values. Attempts in two of the companies to 'Japanize' the workforces were reported to have had some impact, but appeared not to have substantially changed this picture. Urging caution regarding cross-cultural stereotyping and home country bias, we consider the implications for organizations with international manufacturing operations.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of International Management.

    Volume (Year): 12 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 408-429

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:intman:v:12:y:2006:i:4:p:408-429

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    Related research

    Keywords: Organizational learning Cross-cultural influence Social construction;

    References

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    1. Silvia Gherardi, 2002. "Learning In A Constellation of Interconnected Practices: Canon or Dissonance?," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(4), pages 419-436, 06.
    2. Ingmar Bj�rkman & Wilhelm Barner-Rasmussen & Li Li, 2004. "Managing knowledge transfer in MNCs: the impact of headquarters control mechanisms," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 35(5), pages 443-455, September.
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    4. D Minbaeva & T Pedersen & I Bj�rkman & C F Fey & H J Park, 2003. "MNC knowledge transfer, subsidiary absorptive capacity, and HRM," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 34(6), pages 586-599, November.
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    6. Björkman, Ingmar & Lu, Yuan, 1999. "A corporate perspective on the management of human resources in China," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 16-25, April.
    7. Jeremiah J Sullivan & Ikujiro Nonaka, 1986. "The Application of Organizational Learning Theory to Japanese and American Management," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 17(3), pages 127-147, September.
    8. X Martin & R Salomon, 2003. "Knowledge transfer capacity and its implications for the theory of the multinational corporation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 34(4), pages 356-373, July.
    9. Arvind Parkhe, 1991. "Interfirm Diversity, Organizational Learning, and Longevity in Global Strategic Alliances," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 22(4), pages 579-601, December.
    10. Robert Jensen & Gabriel Szulanski, 2004. "Stickiness and the adaptation of organizational practices in cross-border knowledge transfers," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 35(6), pages 508-523, November.
    11. Jacky F. L. Hong & Mark Easterby-Smith & Robin Stanley Snell, 2006. "Transferring Organizational Learning Systems to Japanese Subsidiaries in China," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(5), pages 1027-1058, 07.
    12. Nicolai Juul Foss & Torben Pedersen, 2004. "Organizing knowledge processes in the multinational corporation: an introduction," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 35(5), pages 340-349, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Gnyawali, Devi R. & Singal, Manisha & Mu, Shaohua "Carolyn", 2009. "Knowledge ties among subsidiaries in MNCs: A multi-level conceptual model," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 387-400, December.
    2. Hong, Jacky Fok Loi & Snell, Robin Stanley & Easterby-Smith, Mark, 2009. "Knowledge flow and boundary crossing at the periphery of a MNC," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 539-554, December.

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