Knowledge Sharing in a Multinational Corporation: A case study of knowledge sharing between HQ and subsidiaries and the integration of marketing strategies

Anna Schou Madsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Effective knowledge sharing between a HQ and its subsidiaries can be one of the prerequisites for the MNC to ensure a competitive advantage, but the transfer of knowledge is affected by the relationship between the HQ and the subsidiaries. The relationship can either enhance or hinder knowledge sharing, and understanding the mechanisms behind can be valuable for the MNC. The MNC can transfer many different types of knowledge, but marketing strategies offers a particular challenge for the company as it consists of both explicit and tacit knowledge. Knowledge sharing is an area that continues to inspire researchers and managers, as knowledge is a resource that is difficult to manage. The thesis first identifies a theoretical framework based on agency theory and absorptive capacity. The purpose of this thesis is to research how the HQ can enhance the vertical knowledge sharing between itself and its subsidiaries, and how the absorptive capacity of the subsidiaries enhance the integration of HQ-initiated marketing strategies? The findings will add to the existing theoretical framework. The topic of this thesis has been researched empirically through a case study of the Danish MNC, Oticon. The empirical data were collected through interviews with managers at the HQ at Oticon and among managers in Oticon’s subsidiaries. Given the focus of the research, all managers were working with marketing or sales. My research data confirmed many of the observations found in the theoretical framework. It was found that the HQ could enhance knowledge sharing with its subsidiaries through the organisational culture, facilitation, and the IT systems. However, in those cases where the IT systems were not optimal for handling the knowledge, employees at the HQ could step in to replicate the missing functions of the system. With respect to the integration of marketing strategies, the research data also confirmed the observation in the theoretical framework, but the findings highlighted adaptation and engagement as two key areas for enhancing the integration. The latter was not part of the theoretical framework, so further research is needed before it can become part of the framework. All the findings in this thesis require some sort of investment from the HQ, highlighting that as knowledge sharing increases so does the resources needed to facilitate it.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages92