For over four decades, IB scholars have been conceptualizing and empirically examining the organizational structure of the multinational corporation (MNC) without really placing relationships at the center of attention. It therefore remains unclear what characterizes those relationships beyond subunits’ roles, motivation, or control mechanisms. Relationship as a term has often been used but rarely defined in the IB literature on intra-firm networks. We develop arguments that position such relationships as the focal unit of analysis. We extend current IB literature to examine in detail the nature and dynamics of relationships in MNCs by borrowing insights from Industrial Marketing and Purchasing research, which focuses on the relational nature and dynamics of interactions between actors. We offer a theoretical framework and develop a conceptual model that brings to the fore the multiplexity and temporality of relationships in MNCs. We also argue that intra-MNC network relationships can be seen as an evolving process and advocate for shifting away from variance-based and typological views toward a process view for examining relationships. Theoretically, understanding what characterizes the nature of MNC intra-firm relationships and what processes contribute to structuring them provides important insights into the global configuration of the MNC and the required organizational design mechanisms needed for MNC existence and resilience. The study is timely and practically relevant in the sense that considering intra-firm relationships deserves even more attention in the current global economic environment when accessing external resources becomes costly and/or inefficient.
Michailova, S. and Paul, S. (2014), "To Orchestrate MNC Intra-Firm Relationships, One Needs to Understand them", Orchestration of the Global Network Organization (Advances in International Management, Vol. 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 377-402. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1571-502720140000027006Download as .RIS
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