Using multi-hub structures for international R&D: Organizational inertia and the challenges of implementation
Over the last decade or so, multinational enterprises (MNEs) have shifted from centralised hub structures to multi-hub structures. While these new structures provide greater potential for cross-fertilization of technologies and access to locationspecific competences, promoting effective knowledge transfer within an MNE – especially in their R&D activities - presents significant managerial challenges. Using evidence collected on the R&D activities of MNEs in the pharmaceutical sector, this paper analyses the challenges associated with complexities of promoting and integrating knowledge flows in the face of inter-unit geographical, organizational and technological distance. MNEs are faced with organizational inertia that hinders efficient lateral communication and inter-unit knowledge transfer, and the evidence suggests that while socialization mechanisms help overcoming some of these bottlenecks, there remain a number of obstacles in optimising knowledge flows in physically and technologically dispersed R&D facilities.
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