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Re‐conceptualizing Bartlett and Ghoshal's Classification of National Subsidiary Roles in the Multinational Enterprise


  • Alan Rugman
  • Alain Verbeke
  • Wenlong Yuan


We re‐conceptualize the Bartlett and Ghoshal typology of national subsidiary roles in the multinational enterprise (MNE), using a resource bundling perspective. Our view is that national subsidiary roles can vary dramatically across value chain activities. We focus on the distinction among innovation, production, sales, and administrative support activities. For each value chain activity, the subsidiary bundles sets of internal competences with accessible, external location advantages. We also address the effects of regional integration on national subsidiary roles. Such schemes may affect substantially the extent to which location advantages of individual countries can be accessed and bundled with internal competences, thereby typically altering some national subsidiaries' roles in specific value chain activities. However, such substantive changes in specific value chain activities performed by national subsidiaries do not necessarily lead to any move in conventional subsidiary role typologies, such as the Bartlett and Ghoshal one, since these typologies only acknowledge aggregate subsidiary role changes, supposedly valid for the entire value chain.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Rugman & Alain Verbeke & Wenlong Yuan, 2011. "Re‐conceptualizing Bartlett and Ghoshal's Classification of National Subsidiary Roles in the Multinational Enterprise," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 253-277, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:48:y:2011:i:2:p:253-277
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2010.00969.x

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