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“Not with the mind alone”: A critique of “Knowledge transfer between Russian and Western firms: whose absorptive capacity is in question?” by Snejina Michailova and Irina Jormanainen

Nigel J. Holden (Centre for International Business, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

critical perspectives on international business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 25 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to provide an invited response to the Michailova/Jormanainen paper (CPoIB, Vol. 7 No. 3).

Design/methodology/approach

The author adopts a subjective approach to respond to the Michailova/Jormanainen paper and challenge/develop further some of the authors' findings.

Findings

The author: suggests that a striking capacity for improvisation applied to virtually every human activity in the USSR; agrees with Michailova and Jormanainen that the Soviet Union's knowledge legacy is a far more important resource for Western firms than is usually appreciated, but believes it is very difficult for the latter to use this resource “in a more nuanced manner”; posits that Russia is learning a new language both literally and metaphorically; and concludes that Russians prefer asymmetrical relationships with the West.

Research limitations/implications

There is a need for more research into Soviet history and even earlier periods of Russian history to explain contemporary Russian management and the Russian style of interaction with foreign business partners.

Practical implications

Foreign firms dealing with Russia must learn to live with asymmetry in their relationships with Russian business partners; knowing sharing operates in a zone of severe terminological and attitudinal mismatches.

Originality/value

Historical approach; use of Russian language sources, including Tolstoy; first reference in English‐language management literature of Russia's first Handbook of Knowledge Management.

Keywords

Citation

Holden, N.J. (2011), "“Not with the mind alone”: A critique of “Knowledge transfer between Russian and Western firms: whose absorptive capacity is in question?” by Snejina Michailova and Irina Jormanainen", critical perspectives on international business, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 350-356. https://doi.org/10.1108/17422041111180782

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited