Complexity and Multinationals

Marcus Møller Larsen, Julian Birkinshaw, Yue Maggie Zhou, Gabriel R. G. Benito*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

33 Downloads (Pure)


Research Summary:

The multinational corporation (MNC) is a typical example of a complex organization. In this essay, we employ an established body of literature on complexity in organizations to explore and discuss the nature and consequences of complexity for global strategy and MNCs. On that basis, we develop a simple organizing framework for complexity in global strategies emphasizing the source (external and internal complexity) and type (process and structural complexity) of complexity. We use this framework to structure and discuss the six research contributions in this Special Issue. We conclude by suggesting additional avenues of research on the interface between global strategy and complexity.

Managerial Summary:

Firms internationalize because they recognize business opportunities abroad and devise strategies to successfully exploit them. At the same time, managers face increasing complexity as MNCs expand internationally and engage in more unknown and dispersed operations. Not only do MNCs face considerable complexity by operating in diverse and uncertain environments, but also by managing and coordinating organizational tasks and activities spanning multiple countries. This essay discusses these challenges and corresponding strategies for MNC managers. It also provides an overview of the six research articles included in this Special Issue about complexity and MNCs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Strategy Journal
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)535-551
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Published online: 04 September 2023.


  • Complexity
  • Coordination
  • Global strategy
  • Multinational corporations

Cite this