UM E-Theses Collection (澳門大學電子學位論文庫)


PFBA(M) 000 (SAMPLE) Cross cultural organizational learning in multinational corporations

English Abstract

Abstract The aim of this dissertation is to explore and understand how learning takes place within the subsidiaries ofmultinational corporations (MNCs). The three studies in this dissertation highlight three core weaknesses that dominate the current debate on organisational learning in MNCs: the limited attention given to knowledge implementation, the inattention to knowledge assimilation and the bottom-up process of subsidiary-originated innovation. The dissertation focuses on three guiding research questions. 1. How does the tacit and locally embedded nature of knowledge cause problems for organisational learning in MNCs? 2. How does collective learning take place given the power asymmetry between home expatriates and host locals at a subsidiary? 3. How and why can dual embeddedness support subsidiary locals throughout the subsidiary-originated innovation process and enhance the competence of an MNC? I use a qualitative, case-based research method with informants from China- based subsidiaries of MNCs, headquartered in the U.S., Japan and Europe. The first study shows that successful organisational learning in MNCs should not de- emphasise knowledge implementation problems due to cultural-cum-institutional differences. Institutional, structural, contextual, cultural and intercultural barriers are found to be major challenges that hinder successful organisational learning from taking place in MNC subsidiaries. The second study explores the process of knowledge assimilation and describes how home expatriates and host country locals, each of whom pursue different sense-making and sense-giving strategies, are able to assimilate MNC knowledge and locally embedded knowledge throughout the exportive, contestative and integrative stages. The third study identifies a process model of subsidiary-originated innovation that includes five stages: sensing, owning, generating, implementing and disseminating. Both external and internal embeddedness are found to play a role in enabling and augmenting subsidiary- originated innovations at different stages under distinct salient factors. This dissertation provides new insights into organisational learning in NTNCs regarding the evolving roles of subsidiaries and their social actors (i.e., expatriates and locals) and suggests another way of interpreting the learning process. Specifically, the three studies contribute to the literature on organisational learning in MNCs in three main areas: the importance of knowledge integration and the barriers involved; the knowledge integration process and the bottom-up, subsidiary-originated innovation Process.

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Mak, Ka Yee


Faculty of Business Administration


Department of Management and Marketing




Hong, Jacky

Snell, Robin Stanley

1/F Zone C
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