Microfoundations in International Management Research: The Case of Knowledge Sharing in Multinational Corporations

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Microfoundations have become an important theme in recent macro-management research. However, the international management (IM) field is an exception to this. We document the lack of attention on microfoundations in IM research by focusing on knowledge sharing – a key IM research field – which we investigate by means of a keyword-based literature study of the leading IM and general management journals. We discuss possible reasons why microfoundations have so far met with less resonance in IM research. We point to the training and background of IM scholars as possible reasons. We also highlight the significance that IM scholars place on context and structure in explanation. These may be seen as contrary to a microfoundations perspective, a view that we show is incorrect. We end by identifying several microfoundational issues in IM research, calling for a sustained effort with respect to theory, heuristics, and empirics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1594–1621
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Microfoundations
  • Context
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Subsidiaries

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