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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Long Range Planning, Available online 22 November 2013
We seek to provide a comprehensive operationalization of firm-specific variables that constitute multinational enterprise subsidiary entrepreneurial competencies. Towards this objective, we bring together notions from the fields of entrepreneurship and international business. Drawing on an empirical study of 260 subsidiaries located in the UK, we propose a comprehensive set of scales encompassing innovativeness, risk-taking, proactiveness, learning, intra-multinational networking, extra-multinational networking and autonomy; which capture distinct subsidiary entrepreneurial competencies at the subsidiary level. Research and managerial implications are discussed.
A source of competitive advantage for contemporary multinational enterprises (MNEs) is their ability to leverage distinct competencies of internationally dispersed subsidiaries. Much research under the modern stream of subsidiary development has focused on the different roles that subsidiaries can play within the MNE system, drawing on subsidiary-specific competencies (Rugman et al., 2011). Despite the existence of many studies espousing this heterarchical subsidiary-focused approach, there is still no clear understanding as to the development of distinctive competencies at the subsidiary level (Young and Tavares, 2004, Birkinshaw et al., 2005 and Dimitratos and Jones, 2005). Despite its significance, the notion of subsidiary entrepreneurship, in terms of competencies that could contribute both to subsidiary- and MNE-level development, has largely been neglected in the relevant literature (Rugman and Verbeke, 2001, Paterson and Brock, 2002 and Boojihawon et al., 2007). In order to advance research into the field of MNE subsidiary, we require robust constructs that would capture entrepreneurial competencies of those affiliates (cf. Brown et al., 2001 and Dimitratos et al., 2012). In this article, we seek to provide such an operationalization of MNE subsidiary entrepreneurial competencies, which is still missing from the literature. In spite of the importance of international entrepreneurship as a major stream of research, and the generally acknowledged presence of entrepreneurship in large and established organizations (Ahuja and Lampert, 2001 and Rugman and Verbeke, 2001), study of MNEs and their subsidiaries in the international entrepreneurship field has received limited consideration (Young et al., 2003 and Boojihawon et al., 2007). As subsidiaries pursue local opportunities likely to be exploited by the entire multinational system (Birkinshaw, 1997), subsidiary entrepreneurship may be beneficial not only for the individual subsidiary, but also for the entire MNE (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1989, McEvily and Zaheer, 1999 and Birkinshaw and Hood, 2001). Which are the competencies of an entrepreneurial MNE subsidiary? Birkinshaw and his colleagues (Birkinshaw, 1997, Birkinshaw, 1999, Birkinshaw et al., 1998 and Ambos et al., 2010) offer interesting insights into this theme through their work on subsidiary entrepreneurial initiative. Among others, these scholars find subsidiary initiative to be promoted by high levels of distinctive subsidiary competencies, and suppressed by high levels of decision centralization (Birkinshaw et al., 1998 and Birkinshaw, 1999). In addition, only when subsidiaries evoke headquarters attention are they able to enhance their influence through initiatives (Ambos et al., 2010). Our study concurs with observations (Birkinshaw, 1997, Wright, 1999 and Dess et al., 2003) suggesting that the subsidiary entrepreneurship theme deserves further investigation. It specifically seeks to address this gap through providing insights into entrepreneurship in the MNE subsidiary, and more specifically, into the subsidiary's distinctive entrepreneurial competencies by drawing on a literature review of studies in the fields of entrepreneurship and international business. Instead of solely considering the three dimensions of innovativeness, risk taking, and proactiveness vis-à-vis competitors that studies have typically used to capture entrepreneurship (e.g., Covin and Slevin, 1991) and international entrepreneurship (e.g., McDougall and Oviatt, 2000), this article seeks to provide a holistic view of entrepreneurial subsidiary competencies. Analytically, it seeks to identify MNE subsidiary-specific competencies and capture entrepreneurship as firm-level behaviour. Towards this objective, we provide evidence from a large-scale study on 260 MNE subsidiaries based in the UK. The research objective of this study is to identify and test a comprehensive set of scales that form distinct subsidiary entrepreneurial competencies through a factor analysis of the different constructs that have been proposed in the literature as depicting firm-level entrepreneurship. The findings of this analysis bring into light the multi-dimensional nature of the subsidiary entrepreneurship construct. The remainder of this article is structured as follows. The next section develops the background to subsidiary entrepreneurial competencies based on the entrepreneurship and international business literatures. Then, the research methodology is discussed. Afterwards, the results and discussion from the data analysis follow. The implications for theory and management are reported in the final section
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
It is increasingly acknowledged in the international business literature that subsidiaries can provide critical inputs to the entire multinational system (Holm and Pedersen, 2000, Rugman and Verbeke, 2001 and Rugman et al., 2011) through leveraging their own distinctive competencies. Nonetheless, limited work has been done to explore and explain the development of subsidiary competencies in general (Schmid and Schurig, 2003), and subsidiary entrepreneurial competencies in particular (Young and Tavares, 2004, Birkinshaw et al., 2005 and Boojihawon et al., 2007). While previous research has essentially examined subsidiary competencies in terms of their relevance to other corporate entities (Schmid and Schurig, 2003), this article identifies and substantiates the existence of distinct entrepreneurial competencies from a subsidiary competence-creating perspective, and provides an important set of implications for theory and practice. Future study may investigate to what extent activities of MNE subsidiaries located in other countries, in various sectors and with a wide range of different nationalities of ownership validate the operationalization suggested in this article. In a similar vein, longitudinal research is needed to establish to what extent initiatives may also strengthen entrepreneurial competencies, in turn inducing a further loop of interrelationships between MNE subsidiary competencies and initiatives. In terms of implications for theory, this article contributes to the literature in the field of MNEs suggesting a 26-item set of scales to accurately measure subsidiary entrepreneurial competencies. By highlighting its multidimensional nature, the set of scales of Table 2 suggests that future research at the subsidiary level needs to examine the identified entrepreneurial competencies in combination to reflect the holistic nature of this operationalization. Furthermore, it adds to past research on the constituents of corporate (Covin and Slevin, 1991 and Lumpkin and Dess, 1996) and international (McDougall and Oviatt, 2000) entrepreneurship. At the same time, it demonstrates that entrepreneurial competencies may be different in MNE subsidiaries versus independent firms, in that they encompass the MNE-related aspects of intra-MNE networking, autonomy, and subsidiary-specific contextualization of learning (cf. Dimitratos et al., 2012). Apart from the well-established dimensions of innovativeness, risk-taking and proactiveness, learning is identified as a key competence at the subsidiary level directly linked to entrepreneurial initiative. The subsidiary's ability to exploit locally generated knowledge does not only constitute a source of MNE advantage, as espoused in many studies (Rugman and Verbeke, 2001 and Ambos et al., 2006), but also a subsidiary-specific advantage. Subsidiary learning largely increases entrepreneurial initiative. Subsidiary networking was further established as a dominant driver of entrepreneurial initiative. Subsidiaries facilitating the development of both intra-MNE and extra-MNE networks exhibit increased levels of entrepreneurial initiative (cf. Birkinshaw et al., 2005). Therefore, this article establishes the importance of both corporate and local embeddedness as the basis of key subsidiary-specific competencies that drive entrepreneurial initiative. Subsidiary autonomy is identified as a firm-level entrepreneurial competence that may further lead to increased initiative. Although the lack of autonomy has been found to suppress subsidiary entrepreneurial initiative (Birkinshaw et al., 1998 and Birkinshaw, 1999), the identification of autonomy as an entrepreneurial competence in this study stresses its subsidiary-level initiative-enhancing significance. In terms of managerial implications, this article emphasizes the importance of building entrepreneurial competencies for subsidiary survival and long-term growth. Enhanced performance by MNE subsidiaries in developed countries such as the UK is a necessity, both to ensure external competitiveness in the global marketplace, and internal competitiveness within the MNE group. Organization-wide actions by subsidiary managers are required to promote the seven entrepreneurial competencies identified. First, regarding innovativeness, programmes to promote idea generation and to build and sustain an innovative mindset among employees are needed. Second, since innovativeness and doing things differently entail risk taking, then employees must be encouraged to take chances and implement their ideas, with management recognizing that there will be failures as well as successes. Third, proactiveness means identifying market opportunities faster than the competition by being ahead in understanding and interpreting market, industry and technological signals and developments. Learning is a critical fourth competence, notably ensuring that knowledge — especially involving internal and external stakeholders — is formally identified and shared across the subsidiary. Fifth, effective networking entails strong involvement with customers in particular but also other groups external to the subsidiary including suppliers, professional and trade associations, research institutions, academics and consultants, and government organizations. The last entrepreneurial competence of autonomy poses particular challenges for the MNE subsidiary (as compared with private enterprises). Subsidiary autonomy is commonly allocated by the parent MNE. Autonomy may also be gained by the MNE subsidiary by using its entrepreneurial activities and programmes to build greater credibility and reputation within the MNE, and by “internal lobbying” designed to build close relationships with the parent MNE. Recent research (Ambos et al., 2010) has identified a “suppressor effect” on subsidiary autonomy derived from increased parent MNE monitoring as a subsidiary launches new innovations. Still, there are opportunities for organization-wide subsidiary entrepreneurial activities that are operational in nature, and even for structured innovation programmes that may not require parent approval. The comprehensive set of scales of entrepreneurial competencies developed in this article can be used practically within MNE subsidiaries to aid the implementation of entrepreneurial initiatives. We view subsidiary entrepreneurship as a phenomenon that should be embedded throughout the organization. These scales are particularly appropriate for collecting survey information on entrepreneurial competencies from subsidiary managers at different levels. They can be used to assess the perceptions of network partners (e.g., customers, suppliers, research partners, consultants) towards entrepreneurship in the subsidiary, and even to evaluate the attitudes of the parent and other subsidiaries within the multinational group. They can also provide insights to public policy makers on how they can work with subsidiary managers to launch initiatives that can have beneficial effects in the host country context.