The purpose of this paper is to address the misapplication of the embeddedness concept in Ferraris’s (2014) paper and show how it needs to be used as a cornerstone economic sociology concept within his proposed framework. This paper is a response to his paper in the Multinational Business Review “Rethinking the literature on ‘multiple embeddedness’ and subsidiary-specific advantages”.
The paper outlines the origin of the embeddedness concept and its evolution within the economic sociology literature. It addresses different types of embeddedness and continues with a critical analysis of Ferraris’s (2014) proposed framework of four main types of multinational enterprise (MNE) relationships. It provides suggestions for its improvement and application, as well as discusses the appropriate applications of embeddedness concept by international business (IB) scholars in MNE research.
The paper shows how the embeddedness concept is mostly used as a metaphor and as a simple umbrella label for different types of connections between MNEs, their subsidiaries and different types of environments. The analysis of Ferraris’s (2014) proposed framework shows how MNE embeddedness is incorrectly understood as emanating from the balancing of local responsiveness and global integration within MNEs, where subsidiaries develop subsidiary-specific advantages (SSAs) by recombining home – host country-specific advantages and parent – subsidiary firm-specific advantages (FSAs).
The paper adds to the existing IB understanding of MNEs’ multiple embeddedness and subsidiaries’ dual embeddedness through a wider and more structured economic sociology perspective. It provides an appropriate economic sociology-grounded typology of different types of embeddedness. A discussion of possible future research directions stresses how the embeddedness – dissembeddedness capability is a key source of MNE competitive advantage, which moderates the actual recombination process of producing FSAs and SSAs.
This research is a result of a six-month visiting graduate fellowship at Harvard University (FAS Sociology) in 2010-2011. Special acknowledgements go to Prof Peter V. Marsden, Prof Christopher Winship and Prof Filiz Garip, all from the Harvard University (FAS Sociology).
Rašković, M. (2014), "Misunderstanding embeddedness: a response to Ferraris’ rethinking multiple embeddedness", Multinational Business Review, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 139-154. https://doi.org/10.1108/MBR-04-2014-0011Download as .RIS
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