The paper argues that the contrast between studies of MNCs which emphasise isomorphism and those which emphasise social embeddedness is unhelpful. Following recent institutionalist discussions which have emphasised the dynamic nature of firms, and institutions, it is argued that the transnational social space of the multinational encompasses a variety of different forms of actors which are engaged in processes that partially produce isomorphism and partially reproduce institutional difference. This perspective is proposed not as a middle way between the two institutionalisms but as a way to capture the ongoing dynamics of MNCs. The paper illustrates this approach through considering four ideal-typical `games' which occur inside MNCs. These games are analysed in terms of the actors, the institutional resources brought into the game, the emerging rules of the game, the outcomes of the game and how these processes relate to institutional theory. These games reveal the complex interaction of processes of isomorphism and social differentiation and suggest an agenda for further research on MNCs that will focus on examining how these games interact and with what effect in different sorts of multinationals. Keywords: Multinationals; institutionalism; varieties of capitalism; isomorphism; embeddedness.
|Place of Publication
|Department of Business and Politics. Copenhagen Business School
|Number of pages
|Published - 2005