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Process and structure in knowledge management practices of British and US multinational enterprises


  • Buckley, Peter J.
  • Carter, Martin J.


This paper suggests that the conventional opposition of 'global' versus 'local' strategies in knowledge management processes is not only unhelpful but misleading. It investigates the process of knowledge management, its impact on organisational structure and, in particular, its spatial aspects. Using three detailed case studies of multinational firms, it finds that knowledge configurations, which are both dynamic and 'glocal', are utilised to extract value from sticky local sources of knowledge and to evolve better solutions. The paper moves away from the unidirectional flow of knowledge to a picture showing conflicts between the preexisting organisational structure and the desire to manage spatial separated knowledge sources. The analysis encompasses the strategic active subsidiary as a special, possibly intermediate case, of the problems of managing spatially separate knowledge sources.

Suggested Citation

  • Buckley, Peter J. & Carter, Martin J., 2002. "Process and structure in knowledge management practices of British and US multinational enterprises," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 29-48.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:intman:v:8:y:2002:i:1:p:29-48

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-795, December.
    2. Forsgren, Mats & Pedersen, Torben & Foss, Nicolai J., 1999. "Accounting for the strengths of MNC subsidiaries: the case of foreign-owned firms in Denmark," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 181-196, April.
    3. Peter J Buckley & Mark C Casson, 1998. "Models of the Multinational Enterprise," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 29(1), pages 21-44, March.
    4. Foss, Nicolai J. & Pedersen, Torben, 2002. "Transferring knowledge in MNCs: The role of sources of subsidiary knowledge and organizational context," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 49-67.
    5. Peter Buckley & Martin Carter, 1996. "The Economics of Business Process Design: Motivation, Information and Coordination Within the Firm," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 5-24.
    6. Mudambi, Ram, 1999. "MNE internal capital markets and subsidiary strategic independence," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 197-211, April.
    7. Carter, Martin J, 1995. "Information and the Division of Labour: Implications for the Firm's Choice of Organisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(429), pages 385-397, March.
    8. Birkinshaw, Julian & Ridderstråle, Jonas, 1999. "Fighting the corporate immune system: a process study of subsidiary initiatives in multinational corporations," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 149-180, April.
    9. Pearce, Robert, 1999. "The evolution of technology in multinational enterprises: the role of creative subsidiaries," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 125-148, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bürker, Matthias & Franco, Chiara & Minerva, G. Alfredo, 2013. "Foreign ownership, firm performance, and the geography of civic capital," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(6), pages 964-984.
    2. Blomkvist, Katarina & Kappen, Philip & Zander, Ivo, 2017. "Gone are the creatures of yesteryear? On the diffusion of technological capabilities in the ‘modern’ MNC," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 1-16.
    3. Yamin, Mo. & Otto, Juliet, 2004. "Patterns of knowledge flows and MNE innovative performance," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 239-258.
    4. Sluismans, Raf, 2003. "Looking for synergy in organizations: The role of the concept of configuration in contemporary theory," Research Memorandum 014, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    5. Cepeda, Gabriel & Vera, Dusya, 2007. "Dynamic capabilities and operational capabilities: A knowledge management perspective," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(5), pages 426-437, May.
    6. Moore, Fiona, 2012. "Identity, knowledge and strategy in the UK subsidiary of an Anglo-German automobile manufacturer," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 281-292.
    7. Pinkse, Jonatan & Kuss, Matthias J. & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2010. "On the implementation of a 'global' environmental strategy: The role of absorptive capacity," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 160-177, April.
    8. Michailova, Snejina & Mustaffa, Zaidah, 2012. "Subsidiary knowledge flows in multinational corporations: Research accomplishments, gaps, and opportunities," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 383-396.
    9. Dorra Yahiaoui & Hela Chebbi, 2008. "Entre universalisme et contextualité des pratiques managériales dans les pays européens : l’hybridation est souvent la règle Between the universality and the contextuality of managerial practises in E," Working Papers 194, Laboratoire de Recherche sur l'Industrie et l'Innovation. ULCO / Research Unit on Industry and Innovation.
    10. McGuinness, Martina & Demirbag, Mehmet & Bandara, Sasanka, 2013. "Towards a multi-perspective model of reverse knowledge transfer in multinational enterprises: A case study of Coats plc," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 179-195.
    11. repec:spr:manint:v:51:y:2011:i:2:d:10.1007_s11575-011-0075-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Susanne Ollila & Anna Yström & Marine Agogué, 2013. "Stepping out of the zone of territorial protection enables open innovation collaboration," Post-Print hal-00931185, HAL.
    13. repec:spr:manint:v:48:y:2008:i:6:d:10.1007_s11575-008-0103-z is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Buckley, Peter J., 2009. "Internalisation thinking: From the multinational enterprise to the global factory," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 224-235, June.
    15. Liao, Chechen & Chuang, Shu-Hui & To, Pui-Lai, 2011. "How knowledge management mediates the relationship between environment and organizational structure," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(7), pages 728-736, July.


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