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Fighting the corporate immune system: a process study of subsidiary initiatives in multinational corporations

  • Birkinshaw, Julian
  • Ridderstråle, Jonas
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    This paper examines subsidiary initiatives, which are entrepreneurial activities carried out by foreign owned subsidiaries in multinational corporations; and the forces that resist them that we refer to as the 'corporate immune system'. The study is based on case study analyses of 44 initiatives, both successes and failures, undertaken by Canadian subsidiary managers. The key finding is that subsidiary initiatives take two different forms. Internally-focused initiatives are based on opportunities identified within the corporation, and are pursued through a traditional bottom-up process. Externally-focused initiatives are based on opportunities in the external marketplace. The most successful ones typically gain allies outside the corporation early on, and only confront the corporate immune system once they are relatively well established.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969593198000432
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Business Review.

    Volume (Year): 8 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 2 (April)
    Pages: 149-180

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:iburev:v:8:y:1999:i:2:p:149-180
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    1. Gupta, Anil K. & Govindarajan, V., 1994. "Organizing for knowledge flows within MNCs," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 443-457, December.
    2. Vernon, Raymond, 1979. "The Product Cycle Hypothesis in a New International Environment," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 41(4), pages 255-67, November.
    3. Andrew H. Van de Ven, 1986. "Central Problems in the Management of Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(5), pages 590-607, May.
    4. Danny Miller, 1983. "The Correlates of Entrepreneurship in Three Types of Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(7), pages 770-791, July.
    5. Ginsberg, Ari & Hay, Michael, 1994. "Confronting the challenges of corporate entrepreneurship: Guidelines for venture managers," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 382-389, December.
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