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The MNC as a Knowledge Structure: The Roles of Knowledge Sources and Organizational Instruments for Knowledge Creation and Transfer

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Author Info

  • Foss, Nicolai J.

    (Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy)

  • Pedersen, Torben

    (Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School)

Abstract

Most recent research on the differentiated MNC has been taken up with knowledge flows between MNC units. In contrast, we develop a view of the MNC as a knowledge structure where knowledge elements in MNCs are seen as being structured along a number of dimensions (e.g., complementarity, dispersal, sources of knowledge) that help determining the costs and benefits of knowledge transfer. Based on this conceptualization, we argue that MNC management through choices regarding organizational control, motivation and context can influence the development, characteristics and transfer of knowledge. This further extends existing literature. For example, in most of the literature, the characteristics of knowledge are seen as exogenous rather than endogenous variables. However, to the extent that management chooses a specific way of sourcing knowledge, it also implicitly chooses the characteristics of the sourced knowledge and the ease with which it can be transferred inside the MNC. This is because knowledge from different knowledge sources have different characteristics and are thus transferred at different cost. The six hypotheses that we draw from the main argument are tested against a unique and very rich dataset on subsidiary knowledge development (including information on the organizational setting, sources of subsidiary knowledge and the extent of knowledge transfer to other MNC-units) that has been constructed in connection with a cross-national project Centres of Excellence. The dataset covers more than 2.000 subsidiaries located in seven different European countries.

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File URL: http://openarchive.cbs.dk/cbsweb/handle/10398/6619
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Copenhagen Business School, Department of International Economics and Management in its series Working Papers with number 12-2001.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 20 Dec 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhb:cbsint:2001-012

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
Phone: +45 3815 2515
Fax: +45 3815 2500
Email:
Web page: http://www.cbs.dk/departments/int/
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Related research

Keywords: Multinational corporations; Knowledge structure; knowledge transfer; Knowledge management;

References

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  1. Nicolai J. Foss & Torben Pedersen, . "Transferring Knowledge in MNCs: The Role of Sources of Subsidiary Knowledge and Organizational Context," IVS/CBS Working Papers 00-12, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy, Copenhagen Business School.
  2. Bruce Kogut & Udo Zander, 1993. "Knowledge of the Firm and the Evolutionary Theory of the Multinational Corporation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 24(4), pages 625-645, December.
  3. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," IDEI Working Papers 37, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  4. Sumantra Ghoshal & Harry Korine & Gabriel Szulanski, 1994. "Interunit Communication in Multinational Corporations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(1), pages 96-110, January.
  5. Bruce Heiman & Jack Nickerson, 2002. "Towards Reconciling Transaction Cost Economics and the Knowledge-based View of the Firm: The Context of Interfirm Collaborations," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 97-116.
  6. S.A. Lippman & R.P. Rumelt, 1982. "Uncertain Imitability: An Analysis of Interfirm Differences in Efficiency under Competition," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 418-438, Autumn.
  7. Julian Birkinshaw, 1996. "How Multinational Subsidiary Mandates are Gained and Lost," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 27(3), pages 467-495, September.
  8. Gassmann, Oliver & von Zedtwitz, Maximilian, 1999. "New concepts and trends in international R&D organization," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2-3), pages 231-250, March.
  9. Holm, Ulf & Pedersen, Torben, 2000. "The Dilemma Of Centres Of Excellence - Contextual Creation Of Knowledge Versus Global Transfer Of Knowledge," Working Papers 8-2000, Copenhagen Business School, Department of International Economics and Management.
  10. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Technology, Strategy, and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 511-28, June.
  11. Kendall Roth & Allen J Morrison, 1992. "Implementing Global Strategy: Characteristics of Global Subsidiary Mandates," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 23(4), pages 715-735, December.
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