Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Rationality vs ignorance: The role of MNE headquarters in subsidiaries’ innovation processes


Author Info

  • Francesco Ciabuschi

    (Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden)

  • Mats Forsgren

    (Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden)

  • Oscar Mart�n Mart�n

    (1] Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden[2] Department of Business Administration, Public University of Navarre, Pamplona, Spain)

Registered author(s):


    Innovation processes in multinational enterprises (MNE) are largely context specific, and carried out at the subsidiary level. Therefore, corporate headquarters (HQ) involvement in these processes becomes a major issue. A typical assumption in international business (IB) theory is that HQ, based on its own knowledge, makes rational choices about its own involvement. However, according to some studies, HQ involvement can be assumed to be less rational, in the sense that it reflects not HQ knowledge but the normative expectations associated with the role of HQ as top manager. The purpose of this paper is to contrast these two perspectives by exploring their implications regarding the relationship between HQ knowledge about and HQ involvement in innovation processes at the subsidiary level, and regarding the impact of this potential involvement on innovation processes performance. The analysis results in six propositions and an illustrative case. Our contribution to IB research is primarily theoretical: we bring to the scene an alternative approach – the sheer ignorance perspective – with the potential to explain the behavior of key actors in the MNE. We argue, however, that the theoretical conflict between the two perspectives should be addressed by empirical research. We conclude with suggestions for the directions such research might take.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    File Function: Link to full text PDF
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    File URL:
    File Function: Link to full text HTML
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal Journal of International Business Studies.

    Volume (Year): 42 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 7 (September)
    Pages: 958-970

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:42:y:2011:i:7:p:958-970

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Order Information:
    Postal: Palgrave Macmillan Journals, Subscription Department, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS, UK

    Related research



    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Hadjikhani, Amjad & Hadjikhani, Annoch Isa & Thilenius, Peter, 2014. "The internationalization process model: A proposed view of firms’ regular incremental and irregular non-incremental behaviour," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 155-168.


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:42:y:2011:i:7:p:958-970. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Elizabeth Gale).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.