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Learning in MNCs: How subsidiary managers do (and do not) create global solutions


  • Esther Tippmann

    () (UCD - University College Dublin [Dublin])

  • Pamela Sharkey Scott

    () (Dublin Institute of Technology - Dublin Institute of Technology)

  • Vincent Mangematin

    () (MTS - Management Technologique et Strategique - Grenoble École de Management (GEM))


It is widely acknowledged in international business (IB) that the task of subsidiaries in multinational corporation (MNC) learning is to adapt, create and diffuse new knowledge. Departing from the common focus on the subsidiary's assigned mandate, this study takes a problemistic search perspective to explore subsidiary managers' actions in detail. A qualitative study was conducted into 38 solution finding processes employed in four subsidiaries. The paper's main contribution is a framework of subsidiary managers' roles in MNC learning, depicting how the framing of the problem influences knowledge search and solution finding activities, and how different activities result in learning at local and global levels. Further implications for MNC knowledge and organizational learning, the management of interdependencies and integration, and for economic geography literatures are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Esther Tippmann & Pamela Sharkey Scott & Vincent Mangematin, 2012. "Learning in MNCs: How subsidiary managers do (and do not) create global solutions," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-00756252, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:gemptp:hal-00756252
    DOI: 10.1057/jibs.2012.25
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andersson, Ulf & Björkman, Ingmar & Forsgren, Mats, 2005. "Managing subsidiary knowledge creation: The effect of control mechanisms on subsidiary local embeddedness," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 521-538, October.
    2. Gnyawali, Devi R. & Singal, Manisha & Mu, Shaohua Carolyn, 2009. "Knowledge ties among subsidiaries in MNCs: A multi-level conceptual model," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 387-400, December.
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