Learning from the World? Horizontal Knowledge Flows and Geopolitics in International Consulting Firms

Mehdi Boussebaa, Andrew Sturdy, Glenn Morgan

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    This paper examines the nature of the contemporary multinational corporation (MNC) through a study of the use of knowledge management systems (KMS) in four major international consulting firms. In particular, we explore whether and how such systems facilitate horizontal (inter-subsidiary) flows of knowledge, as described in the network view of the MNC. Our analysis reveals the presence of horizontal flows within the four firms, but flows that are contextually constrained and partly shaped by geopolitical power relations. Thus, our study gives some support to the image of the MNC as a network whilst highlighting the contextual limits of horizontal knowledge transfer and, importantly, the geopolitical conditions under which such knowledge transfer takes place. At the same time, it challenges the claim that consulting firms are model organizations in the area of knowledge management as well as the more negative view that questions the ability of KMS to facilitate knowledge transfer.
    TidsskriftInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Udgave nummer9
    Sider (fra-til)1227-1242
    StatusUdgivet - 2014


    • Consulting
    • Geopolitics
    • Knowledge management systems
    • Multinationals
    • Professional service firms