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Using multi-hub structures for international R&D: Organizational inertia and the challenges of implementation

  • Criscuolo,Paola
  • Narula,Rajneesh

    (MERIT)

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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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) in its series Research Memorandum with number 025.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:unm:umamer:2005025
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  1. Chiesa, Vittorio, 1996. "Separating research from development: Evidence from the pharmaceutical industry," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 638-647, December.
  2. Reger, Guido, 2004. "Coordinating globally dispersed research centres of excellence--the case of Philips Electronics," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 51-76.
  3. Nightingale, Paul, 2000. "Economies of Scale in Experimentation: Knowledge and Technology in Pharmaceutical R&D," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 315-59, June.
  4. Zander, Ivo, 1999. "How do you mean 'global'? An empirical investigation of innovation networks in the multinational corporation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2-3), pages 195-213, March.
  5. Ajay Agrawal & Iain Cockburn & John McHale, 2003. "Gone But Not Forgotten: Labor Flows, Knowledge Spillovers, and Enduring Social Capital," NBER Working Papers 9950, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bruce Kogut & Udo Zander, 1993. "Knowledge of the Firm and the Evolutionary Theory of the Multinational Corporation," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 24(4), pages 625-645, December.
  7. Weijian Shan & Jaeyong Song, 1997. "Foreign Direct Investment and the Sourcing of Technological Advantage: Evidence from the Biotechnology Industry," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 28(2), pages 267-284, June.
  8. Henderson, Rebecca. & Cockburn, Iain., 1994. "Measuring competence? : exploring firm effects in pharmaceutical research," Working papers 3712-94., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  9. Gassmann, Oliver & von Zedtwitz, Maximilian, 1999. "New concepts and trends in international R&D organization," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2-3), pages 231-250, March.
  10. Arora, Ashish & Gambardella, Alfonso, 1994. "The changing technology of technological change: general and abstract knowledge and the division of innovative labour," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 523-532, September.
  11. Hannan, Michael T. & Polos, Laszlo & Carroll, Glenn R., 2002. "Structural Inertia and Organizational Change Revisited III: The Evolution of Organizational Inertia," Research Papers 1734, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  12. Howells, Jeremy R., 1995. "Going global: The use of ICT networks in research and development," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 169-184, March.
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