توسعه محصول در شرکتهای تابعه MNC : ارتباطات محلی و وابستگی جهانی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|2720||2007||25 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of International Management, Volume 13, Issue 4, December 2007, Pages 488–512
The aim of this paper is to identify and explain how different forms of local linkages vary across different patterns of global workflow interdependence in MNC subsidiaries' product development activities. Both global workflow interdependence and local linkages are essential for innovating and long-term success of a subsidiary. This paper's theoretical approach differs from previous MNC research in that we combine the tightly coupled (or rational) network model with the more common loosely coupled (or differentiated, federative) network model. Empirical data was obtained from subsidiaries in Brazil using web-survey design. Our findings show a positive relationship between local outsourcing linkages and global workflow interdependence in product development provided local cooperative linkages are low. Furthermore, results suggest empirical support for the tightly coupled model and its extension, the adaptively rational model proposed by Astley and Zajec [Astley, W.G., Zajac, E.J., 1991. Intraorganizational power and organizational design: reconcilling rational and coalitional models of organization. Organization Science 2 (4), 104–113.]. Accordingly, our study implies that the more subsidiaries create dependent and counter-dependent relationships, the better they will be positioned within their MNC innovation network and the more pronounced their innovative activities shall be.
Inter-organizational relations have been considered crucial for innovating (von Hippel, 1988 and Lundvall, 1988). Innovation in subsidiaries of multinational companies (MNCs) may therefore be nurtured drawing on linkages with local clients, suppliers, technology centers, universities or research institutes as well as on global relations with peer subsidiaries or headquarters (Schmid and Schurig, 2003). Nevertheless, some prior research has also progressed, suggesting a possible trade-off between a subsidiary's relations with peer MNC units on the one hand and its linkages with local partners on the other (Holm and Pedersen, 2000). Although some researchers have centered their attention on possible relationships between local responsiveness and global integration (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1989) as well as on a subsidiary's external and internal network (Ghoshal and Bartlett, 1990), earlier studies have not sufficiently examined how different types of local linkages may be related to different types of relations among MNC units. Specifically, the bulk of previous research is concerned with the flow of knowledge, resource and capital among MNC units (Gupta and Govindarajan, 1991, Gupta and Govindarajan, 1994, Nohria and Ghoshal, 1997 and Randoy and Li, 2000), but does not connect role typologies and taxonomies to different types of local linkages. Likewise, little research has been carried out concerning local linkages that are conceptually different from the responsiveness or embeddedness notion, such as local outsourcing in product development. While previous studies have been designed using the federative MNC network concept (Ghoshal and Bartlett, 1990), this paper argues that the latter needs to be combined with the rational network model (Astley and Zajac, 1990) in order to take account of the increasing integration of multinational networks. The rational network model focuses on tightly coupled inter-unit workflow interdependencies and will be used for the first time in survey research on exchange relations in product development between different MNC units. Accordingly, this study addresses the aforementioned gaps with the following interrelated research questions: First of all, how are different degrees of global workflow interdependence related to different forms of local linkages? Secondly, to what degree do different patterns of local linkages vary across subsidiaries with different forms of global workflow interdependence in product development? Thirdly, if they vary, how can these variations be explained? Examining such variations could help researchers better understand why some subsidiaries create local linkages while others do not and why some subsidiaries are well-integrated in global innovation activities while others are not. This paper is motivated by the following considerations: analysing different patterns of global workflow interdependence may provide interesting clues to the understanding of the position a subsidiary occupies within the MNC network and its relevance for the MNC's global division of labor in product development. Addressing these issues is also important since they may guide managerial choices considering costs and benefits of different kinds of local linkages and global workflow interdependencies. These choices are relevant to subsidiary managers who are interested in contributing to the overall success of the MNC as well as to head office managers interested in more efficient organizational designs. The sample, product development units in MNC subsidiaries located in an emerging economy (Brazil), was selected intentionally because it may provide new insights distinct from those obtained in industrialized countries where almost all surveys of subsidiaries have been carried out so far. Specifically, innovative activities in a latecomer country as far as global integration of MNC subsidiaries and innovation are concerned, may uncover yet unrealized phenomena and contribute to examining the relevance of local linkages distinct from those stressed in prior research. The remainder of the paper is structured as follows: the next section explains the theoretical underpinnings of the study and formulates some hypotheses to be tested in the empirical part. There follows a section on the research method, which gives details on characteristics of the web survey design. Next, the results from regression and cluster analysis are presented. Finally, we provide some conceptual interpretations of the findings as well as recommendations for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
5.1. Contributions to international business literature This study has explored the relationship between global workflow interdependence and local linkages. Below, we will first draw attention to several descriptive findings, contrasting cluster and regression results, and then cast light on some theoretical implications. As emerging economies are often considered less as technology developers and more as technology adopters, perhaps an interesting descriptive finding is that the majority of PDUs carry out new product development activities and about 50% can be considered contributors for the global product development activities of their MNCs. Thereof, tightly globally workflow interdependent or ‘integrated’ units (cluster IV) have been identified as a consistent group which gives further support to previous case based research (Birkinshaw, 2002). While these units closely reflect the tightly coupled or rational model, dominant, isolated and dependent units (clusters III, II and I) reflect the loosely coupled or coalitional model. This article goes beyond previous research by analyzing how local outsourcing and cooperative linkages vary across these four patterns of global workflow interdependence. Previous empirical research has been limited either to exchange relationships among MNC units (Gupta and Govindarajan, 1994) or to exchange relationships of just one particular subsidiary type such as centers of excellence (Andersson and Forsgren, 2000 and Frost et al., 2002). Thus, this research expands previous empirical literature providing a more comprehensive picture. Regression results suggest that tight global workflow interdependence is associated with strong in-house research or new product development activities, larger sized PDUs, lower decision-making autonomy, strong local outsourcing and weak local cooperative linkages. Cluster analysis results are consistent with these regression results. In particular, this study casts light on a trade-off problem between local linkages and global workflow interdependence of subsidiaries as put forward by previous case based research (Holm and Pedersen, 2000). Regression analysis with interaction terms suggests a finer grained picture of this relationship. Specifically, the more a product development unit is tightly integrated into global R&D (tight global workflow interdependence), the more it is likely to have local outsourcing linkages provided that local cooperative linkages are weak. That is, strong local cooperative linkages reduce the likelihood of a positive relationship between local outsourcing and tight global workflow interdependence. Generally speaking, a trade-off relationship between local linkages and global workflow interdependence may exist, but it is moderated by other types of local linkages. Complementing regression with cluster analysis may help to better understand mentioned trade-off relationship. Cluster analysis shows that dominant units (cluster III) have indeed stronger local cooperative linkages than integrated units (cluster IV). The former units belong to a loosely coupled MNC network while the latter belong to a tightly coupled one. Yet, dominant units might be integrated into a tightly coupled network once the MNC sets up a coordinated global R&D network and once the unit’s (potential) contribution to this network is recognized. Based on Holm and Pedersen (2000), it can be argued that in this situation, a trade-off between local cooperative linkages and global interdependence arises. Such a trade-off is then likely to result in substituting more flexible outsourcing for cooperative linkages. Concerning control variables, there is also some evidence that MNCs headquartered in the US seem to stimulate global integration of their Brazilian R&D units to a greater extent than MNCs headquartered elsewhere. Though speculative, a possible reason for this might be the location of both countries in adjacent time zones which facilitates coordination and communication between US and Brazilian R&D teams. Thus, this significant effect of the US dummy is possibly Brazil-specific and research covering other MNC host and home countries may reveal different patterns due to geographic, institutional or psychic distance. Industry effects may also be country-specific: depending on a host country's technological specialization, different industry effects may become significant (e.g. electronics in some Asian host countries). As regards theory, we found support for a particular version of the ‘adaptively rational model’ (Astley and Zajac, 1991) which is situated in between two extremes, the federative (or loosely coupled) model and the rational (or tightly coupled) model. The adaptively rational model is more flexible than the rational model and thus more capable to respond to environmental turbulence, market and technological uncertainty in particular. According to Astley and Zajac (1991), flexibility in the adaptively rational model might be achieved by ad-hoc coordination. However, this might not be the only one possibility to increase flexibility. As the configuration of integrated units (cluster IV) suggests, tight global workflow interdependence can be made more flexible by local outsourcing linkages which help to create buffers capable of dealing with bottlenecks and general demand fluctuation in global product development activities. The superior average size also suggests that tightly globally workflow interdependent units may in fact accrue higher functional importance within their MNCs. There are two possible additional reasons for this argument. First, combining strong in-house product development capacities with local outsourcing implies a kind of ‘leverage effect’: critical mass (size) can be increased in a flexible manner relying on the external network and without considerably increasing fixed costs. This is important, since critical mass, i.e. the combination of in-house and external capacity, is positively associated with global workflow interdependence. Our pre-survey in-depth interview data illustrates survey result as senior managers from the Brazilian Siemens subsidiary as well as from headquarters indicated that a minimum size of about 50 full time-staff in R&D in addition to a strong external partner network was crucial for the subsidiary's integration into global telecommunications projects. Second, tight global workflow interdependence and strong local outsourcing linkages increase connectivity and thus innovative potential, which may further enhance a unit's functional importance within the MNC R&D network. Comparing dominant with integrated units, it is striking that the latter are involved in more inter-organizational relations in product development than the former. More inter-organizational relations, or higher connectivity, may translate into more future opportunities to gain access to technology and knowledge. Increased access to knowledge may imply more possible re-combinations of knowledge which, in turn, may entail higher innovative intensity. Altogether, results make sense from a theoretical point of view and call for an extension of MNC literature in order to attribute the tightly coupled (or adaptively rational) network model the weight it merits. 5.2. Limitations and future research First of all, this is a one country study which does not permit to make any inferences to other emerging economies. With this in mind, future research in other emerging or transition economies such as Russia, India, China or South Africa could help to validate the theoretical approach taken in our study. Departing from the focus on product development activities, it also remains to be investigated to what extent findings can be applied to other areas, such as production or services. Secondly, macro studies of this kind could be complemented by micro studies that explore how exactly flexibility is created within a globally interdependent product development unit. Thirdly, role typologies can be criticized because of their static nature. This raises the question as to whether the dominant mindset of subsidiary role typologies could be broken by a role continuum. It may be proposed, for instance, that an evolutionary path exists which initiates with dependent or isolated units. Later on, they may develop regional interdependencies and become dominant with respect to subsidiaries in the region or in other emerging markets. The next step may consist of integrating into global innovation networks, equilibrating dependence and counter-dependence. Longitudinal studies are required to identify such evolutionary paths and to test whether role continua actually exist.