The MNC as a Knowledge Structure: The Roles of Knowledge Sources and Organizational Instruments in MNC Knowledge Management

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Abstract

Recent research on the differentiated MNC has concerned knowledge flows between MNC units. While linking up with this literature, we extend in two directions. First, we argue that conceptualizing the MNC as a knowledge structure furthers the understanding of intra-MNC knowledge flows. Thus, we see MNC knowledge elements as being structured along such dimensions as their type and degree of complementarity to other knowledge elements, and their sources, for example, whether they are mainly developed from external or internal knowledge sources. These dimensions matter in terms of knowledge flows, because they influence the costs and benefits of knowledge transfer and, hence, the actual level of knowledge transferred. Second, based on this conceptualization, we argue that MNC management can influence the
development, characteristics and transfer of knowledge through choices regarding organizational instruments (control, motivation and context). We test six hypotheses derived from these arguments against a unique dataset on subsidiary knowledge development. The dataset includes information on organizational instruments, sources of subsidiary knowledge, and the extent of knowledge transfer to other MNC units. It covers more than 2,000 subsidiaries located in seven different European countries.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherDRUID - Danish Research Unit for Industrial Dynamics
Number of pages39
ISBN (Print)8778731410
Publication statusPublished - 2003
SeriesDRUID Working Paper
Number03-09

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