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Low-intensity conflict in multinational corporations

Jakob Lauring (Department of Management, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Poul Houman Andersen (Department of Business and Management, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Marianne Storgaard (Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management, University of Southern Denmark, Aarhus, Denmark)
Hanne Kragh (Department of Management, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

Multinational Business Review

ISSN: 1525-383X

Article publication date: 18 April 2017




This paper aims to identify antecedents for, and consequences of, low-intensity inter-unit conflict in multinational corporations (MNCs). Inter-unit conflict in MNCs is an important and well-researched theme. However, while most studies have focused on open conflict acknowledged by both parties, much less research has dealt with low-intensity conflicts. Still, low-intensity conflicts can be highly damaging – not least because they are rarely resolved.


The authors used a qualitative approach to understanding low-intensity conflict relying on 170 interviews in four Danish MNCs.


They describe consequences of low-intensity conflict and identify three types of actions by headquarters’ representatives that could lead to the development of low-intensity conflicts, namely, ignoring, bypassing and educating.


Very few studies have dealt with low-intensity conflict – not least in international business research. The authors argue that the study of low-intensity conflict in MNCs can provide relevant, novel knowledge of MNC functioning.



Lauring, J., Andersen, P.H., Storgaard, M. and Kragh, H. (2017), "Low-intensity conflict in multinational corporations", Multinational Business Review, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 11-27.



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