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The MNC as a Knowledge Structure The Roles of Knowledge Sources and Organizational Instruments in MNC Knowledge Management

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  • Nicolai J. Foss
  • Torben Pedersen

Abstract

Recent research on the differentiated MNC has concerned knowledge flows between MNC units. While linking up with this literature, we extend in two directions. First, we argue that conceptualizing the MNC as a knowledge structure furthers the understanding of intra-MNC knowledge flows. Thus, we see MNC knowledge elements as being structured along such dimensions as their type and degree of complementarity to other knowledge elements, and their sources, for example, whether they are mainly developed from external or internal knowledge sources. These dimensions matter in terms of knowledge flows, because they influence the costs and benefits of knowledge transfer and, hence, the actual level of knowledge transferred. Second, based on this conceptualization, we argue that MNC management can influence the development, characteristics and transfer of knowledge through choices regarding organizational instruments (control, motivation and context). We test six hypotheses derived from these arguments against a unique dataset on subsidiary knowledge development. The dataset includes information on organizational instruments, sources of subsidiary knowledge, and the extent of knowledge transfer to other MNC units. It covers more than 2,000 subsidiaries located in seven different European countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolai J. Foss & Torben Pedersen, 2003. "The MNC as a Knowledge Structure The Roles of Knowledge Sources and Organizational Instruments in MNC Knowledge Management," DRUID Working Papers 03-09, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:03-09
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Technology, Strategy, and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 511-528, June.
    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;Academy of International Business, vol. 24(4), pages 625-645, December.
    3. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
    4. Sumantra Ghoshal & Harry Korine & Gabriel Szulanski, 1994. "Interunit Communication in Multinational Corporations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(1), pages 96-110, January.
    5. Julian Birkinshaw, 1996. "How Multinational Subsidiary Mandates are Gained and Lost," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 27(3), pages 467-495, September.
    6. Michael C. Jensen & William H. Heckling, 1995. "Specific And General Knowledge, And Organizational Structure," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 8(2), pages 4-18.
    7. 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.
    8. Kendall Roth & Allen J Morrison, 1992. "Implementing Global Strategy: Characteristics of Global Subsidiary Mandates," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 23(4), pages 715-735, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Franco, Eliane & Ray, Sangeeta & Ray, Pradeep Kanta, 2011. "Patterns of Innovation Practices of Multinational-affiliates in Emerging Economies: Evidences from Brazil and India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 1249-1260, July.
    2. Kurokawa, Sam & Iwata, Satoshi & Roberts, Edward B., 2007. "Global R&D activities of Japanese MNCs in the US: A triangulation approach," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 3-36, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Knowledge structure; complementarity; knowledge transfer; the MNC;

    JEL classification:

    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • M1 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration

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