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Orchestrating Innovation in the Multinational Enterprise: Headquarters Involvement in Innovation Transfer Projects
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the past several decades research has emphasized innovation development and transfer as key issues when investigating the multinational enterprise (MNE). This thesis focuses on the question of what factors make headquarters involve itself in innovation transfer projects taking place between a sending and a receiving subsidiary within the MNE. This relates to headquarters active participation and role in the organization of resources (structure) and flows (processes) within the MNE.

Using a database covering 169 innovation transfer projects the empirical analysis reveals that distances influence headquarters involvement, albeit in different directions. Systematic differences based on subsidiary and innovation characteristics and headquarters involvement is found. Not only subsidiary characteristics are of importance for headquarters involvement, but also the embeddedness of the subsidiary hosting the innovation transfer project.

More specifically, physical and cultural distance between the sending and receiving subsidiaries influence headquarters involvement in the transfer negatively, whereas linguistic and economic distance between the subsidiaries conducting the transfer have a positive influence on headquarters involvement in innovation transfer. Looking more closely at the innovations subject to transfer the results suggests that innovations perceived as complex and important are favored for headquarters support. The same is true for innovations that are related to the core business of the subsidiary. At a subsidiary level, powerful subsidiaries initially receive more of headquarters support, but as subsidiary power increase, headquarters becomes less involved, i.e., a curvilinear effect of power is found. Acquired subsidiaries tend to become favored for headquarters involvement in transfer relative to greenfield subsidiaries. Finally, the results indicate that headquarters involves itself in transfer projects when the subsidiaries hosting the transfer projects have been relationally embedded during the innovation development phase.

Theoretically, headquarters involvement can be conceptualized as orchestration of innovations within the MNE, and as a form of resource allocation. Thus, this thesis contributes to the understanding of what influences intra-MNE resource allocation, as well as what factors capture the attention of headquarters leading to innovation orchestration. Headquarters involvement in innovation transfer has implications for setting subsidiaries on evolutionary trajectories.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , p. 105
Series
Doctoral thesis / Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet, ISSN 1103-8454 ; 147
Keywords [en]
Multinational enterprise, headquarters-subsidiary relationships, innovation transfer, involvement, orchestration, resource allocation, attention, subsidiary evolution
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-124206OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-124206DiVA, id: diva2:317240
Public defence
2010-06-09, Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2010-05-18 Created: 2010-05-03 Last updated: 2012-04-16
List of papers
1. Innovation characteristics, transfer management and headquarter involvement in the transfer of innovations between MNE subsidiaries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Innovation characteristics, transfer management and headquarter involvement in the transfer of innovations between MNE subsidiaries
2008 (English)In: 50th AIB Annual Conference, Milano, Italy, June 30-July 3., 2008Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper explores headquarter involvement in the transfer of innovations between subsidiaries in multinational enterprises (MNEs), i.e. intra-MNE innovation transfer. A model based on innovation types and characteristics as well as different relational modes employed by the sending and receiving subsidiaries is tested on a sample of 169 specific innovation transfer projects in 23 MNEs from Europe, Asia and the United States. The findings indicate that headquarters involves themselves in the innovation transfer when the innovation is perceived as important and complex, the type of innovation subject to transfer is of minor importance. Instead it is the characteristics of the innovation that is affecting headquarter involvement as well as how the subsidiaries decides to organize the transfer in terms of relational management, i.e. face-to-face meetings or non-personal interaction. The findings indicates how MNE subsidiaries should communicate with headquarters in order to gain their attention, thus having impact on MNE subsidiary strategy.

Keywords
headquarters, subsidiaries, innovation transfer, multinationals
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-17594 (URN)
Note
Paper nominated for the Haynes Prize.Available from: 2008-07-11 Created: 2008-07-11 Last updated: 2010-05-18
2. Embedded Subsidiaries and the Involvement of Headquarters in Innovation Transfer Processes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Embedded Subsidiaries and the Involvement of Headquarters in Innovation Transfer Processes
2010 (English)In: Resources, Efficiency and Globalization / [ed] Pavlos Dimitratos and Marian V. Jones, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan , 2010, p. 156-177Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010
Series
Academy of International Business Series
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-120850 (URN)978-0-230-23653-0 (ISBN)
Available from: 2010-03-16 Created: 2010-03-16 Last updated: 2010-08-05Bibliographically approved
3. Headquarter Allocation of Resources to Intra-MNE Transfer Projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Headquarter Allocation of Resources to Intra-MNE Transfer Projects
2008 (English)In: 34th European International Business Academy (EIBA), Tallin, Estonia, December 11-13, 2008: International Business and the Catching Up Economies: Challenges and Opportunities, 2008Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-103986 (URN)
Note
Winner of the Copenhagen Prize 2008 awarded for the best paper by scholars under 40.Available from: 2009-05-26 Created: 2009-05-26 Last updated: 2010-11-03Bibliographically approved
4. The effects of spatial and contextual factors on headquarters resource allocation to MNE subsidiaries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The effects of spatial and contextual factors on headquarters resource allocation to MNE subsidiaries
2012 (English)In: Journal of International Business Studies, ISSN 0047-2506, E-ISSN 1478-6990, Vol. 43, no 3, p. 219-243Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Subsidiaries of multinational enterprises are located in a range of environments, in which they are exposed to organizational, national, and sub-national characteristics. Instead of being distributed equally, economic resources are agglomerated in specific countries, or even regions, and the subsidiaries located in these different environments have a heterogeneous resource configuration. This implies that dimensions of space related to geography and subsidiary network relationships may affect how the firm is managed. This paper investigates how spatial and contextual distance within multinational enterprises affects headquarters resource allocation to specific innovation transfer projects between subsidiaries. In brief, the results suggest that sub-national factors, such as the structure of the subsidiary network, offer a strong explanation for headquarters resource allocation. Positive and negative effects of national factors were also found, which implies that distance matters for headquarters resource allocation activities. By integrating the organizational and geographic dimensions, this paper contributes to knowledge about the drivers of headquarters resource allocation to subsidiaries, thereby extending theories related to how subsidiaries can evolve within the multinational enterprise with support from headquarters.

Keywords
multinational corporations (MNCs) and enterprises (MNEs), distance, embeddedness, resource allocation, headquarters–subsidiary roles and relations, innovation transfer
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-161528 (URN)10.1057/jibs.2011.57 (DOI)000301819600002 ()
Available from: 2011-11-14 Created: 2011-11-14 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved

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