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Theories of the Multinational Enterprise: Diversity, Complexity and Relevance

ISBN: 978-0-76231-126-2, eISBN: 978-1-84950-285-6

Publication date: 9 November 2004


This introductory chapter presents a personal perspective on the challenges of building a managerial theory of the multinational corporation (MNC). By managerial theory, I mean a practice theory (Van de Ven & Johnson, in press); i.e. a theory that draws upon discipline-based knowledge to show how more general abstract conceptual analysis can be brought to bear on specific real-life managerial problems (Simon, 1996). Developing such a managerial theory is fraught with challenges and pitfalls. Such a theory has to provide a conceptual link between academic disciplines (traditional science or at least academic research) and practical knowledge (learning from action). Each follows very different theory building rules (Christensen et al., 2002; Cook & Brown, 1999;Van de Ven & Johnson, in press), and yet a managerial theory needs to incorporate both. It needs to be useful in the context of an evolving phenomenon: Today’s global companies neither carry the same activities nor draw their legitimacy or competitive advantage from the same sources as yesterday’s multinationals. A theory that attempts to bring theoretical disciplines to bear on practice also needs to be multidisciplinary and eclectic. Thus, there are three challenges addressed in this chapter.


Doz, Y.L. (2004), "TOWARD A MANAGERIAL THEORY OF THE MNC", Hitt, M.A. and Cheng, J.L.C. (Ed.) "Theories of the Multinational Enterprise: Diversity, Complexity and Relevance" (Advances in International Management, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-30.



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