Multinational Enterprises, Markets and Institutional Diversity: Volume 9

Table of contents

(25 chapters)
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Dedication

Pages xiii-xiv
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Purpose

This chapter provides an overview of various new streams in international business (IB) research that will have an important impact on IB studies in the years to come, both from a conceptual and a methodological perspective.

Methodology/approach

The authors discuss a set of 18 chapters, all included in this research volume, and highlight both the key intellectual contributions and the challenges identified that will need to be taken into account in future research.

Findings

The findings of the studies discussed are manifold and profound. Some of the main findings include the following: (1) multinational enterprise (MNE)-centric empirical research studies should be avoided. Resource recombination typically requires taking into account the resource base and the strategies of at least two economic actors. (2) IB studies, almost by definition, need to take into account “distance,” but most prior empirical research has not done a particularly good job in including relevant distance parameters in a methodologically sound way to assess their impact on MNE strategy, operational functioning or performance. (3) Nonbusiness institutions can be very helpful in promoting MNE expansion but include “dark side” institutions that sometimes appear very effective in particular situational contexts. (4) Institutional diversity matters: it can make international knowledge transfers difficult, it can lead to discrimination against firms from specific nationalities, it certainly suggests that there is no generalizable multinationality–performance relationship, and it raises the question whether new theory is needed to accommodate previously neglected institutional contexts.

Practical implications

This overview of several recent IB studies confirms that managing the international innovation chain in its entirety is fraught with difficulties. MNE senior management must economize on bounded rationality (meaning: improving information quality and information processing) and bounded reliability (meaning: making sure that economic actors make good on open-ended promises, whether implicit or explicit). Any IB transaction by definition entails new resource recombination. Doing so effectively requires correct information, reliable partners and a recombination outcome that supports value creation for the MNE. Multiple, practice-driven puzzles in the IB context are proposed to the reader, and the outcomes are often unexpected.

Originality/value

A variety of new concepts and methodological approaches are proposed to improve the quality of future IB research.

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Purpose

This chapter discusses the global factory paradigm. We show how mainstream international business (IB) thinking, namely, internalization theory, can guide multinational enterprise (MNE) strategic decision-making in the context of a global factory network.

Methodology/approach

We identify the key assumptions made in the global factory paradigm about the fine slicing of economic activities and the related implications for the ownership status and location of each activity. In order to overcome the global factory paradigm’s relative lack of predictive capacity, as compared to internalization theory, we propose an asset-bundling approach. This approach uses a clear and unambiguous criterion, namely, the tradability of resources (and resource combinations) to determine which sets of activities can best be left to external market contracting or should on the contrary be internalized on the basis of efficiency considerations.

Findings

We describe the enhanced role of developing/transition countries in the functioning of the global economy and show that these countries represent an increasing share of worldwide economic activities. Given this macrolevel development, the global factory, as a complex organizational form governing both internal activities and contracts with external parties, is rapidly gaining in importance. We describe, at the conceptual level, the strengths and weaknesses of the global factory and propose a “decision dynamics” matrix to support global factory, senior managers’ strategies in the realm of ownership status and location.

Research implications

Future research on the MNE should focus on in-depth analysis of firms that embody “global factory”-type characteristics in order to understand better the evolution of this type of company and to capture the close requisite links among the focal firm, external contracting parties, and the broader environment. Such research should also lead to a better understanding of innovative resource combination processes and the transferability of non-location-bound firm-specific advantages (FSAs) across the global factory network.

Practical implications

In the global factory, the MNE head office assumes the role of resource orchestrator and is responsible for key strategic decisions on ownership status and location. Here, the head office must assess critically the operations that are part of the MNE’s value chain and reflect on the firm’s international dispersion of economic activities on an ongoing basis, given a myriad of broad environmental changes and changes in external competitive pressures. Our “decision dynamics” matrix provides a simple but effective managerial tool supporting MNE ownership status and location decisions, but the head office’s capability to make these decisions should not be overestimated.

Originality/value

We explicitly link internalization theory with the global factory paradigm and explore unresolved issues in the relevant literature. Internalization theory prescribes the optimal ownership status and location for each economic activity considered. The theory focuses on the bundling of firm-level resources and complementary ones held by external parties, for each fine-sliced economic activity. It also considers explicitly the nature of the linkages among these activities.

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Purpose

Building on transaction cost economics (TCE) and recent critique on international business (IB) research, we intend to sharpen our knowledge on the application of TCE in entry mode studies.

Methodology/approach

We develop a two-sided model of transaction costs by considering the multinational corporation (MNC) and the local partner.

Findings

Overall, we illustrate that the decisions firms undertake are not always in line with traditional MNC-centric TCE reasoning. Specifically, we identify three situations when “traditional” TCE predicts transaction costs lower than they actually are. Based on our findings we derive implications for future TCE studies.

Originality/value

Our study is among the first to highlight the relevance of potential partners’ transaction costs during market entry. Our model of dually impinged transaction costs is supposed to guide future research and can be of direct use to firms assessing costs of entry.

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Purpose

The chapter looks at two recent acquisitions by Chinese companies of German firms operating in the automotive sector. In both cases it was the target firm that initiated the process, intentionally selling to a Chinese strategic investor. The main purpose of the chapter is to examine the main motivations that induce developed country MNEs to deliberately search for a buyer in China.

Methodology

The chapter uses a case-study approach. Interviews were conducted with the managers that followed the entire process of sale and who were responsible for the search and the selection of a strategic investor in China.

Findings

Empirical findings show that major drivers in opting for Chinese investors are the potential synergies generating from resource redeployment, the ability of the acquired firm to maintain its autonomy and the opportunity to expand into the Chinese market.

Research implications

The cases analysed show that developed country firms may take a proactive role in China in order to address their institutional-based disadvantages and to reduce and eliminate the liability of foreignness they may confront there. What is important is strong core competitiveness on their side, which can ensure their operational autonomy, such as technological leadership and superior quality and solid development. The policy implications are relevant, because in the current particular situation where many companies in Europe turn for sources of capital to emerging market firms, Chinese investors can facilitate target companies’ growth, with a positive impact for the local economy.

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Purpose

This chapter investigates whether traditional design-oriented coordination instruments or more modern management concepts have a stronger influence on the success of forward technology transfers within MNCs.

Design/methodology/approach

We conducted an empirical study analyzing the relative influence of (a) traditional coordination instruments (structural, technocratic, and person-oriented) and (b) modern management concepts (epistemic community and absorptive capacity) on the success of forward technology transfers within MNCs.

Findings

The study finds evidence that the traditional coordination instruments relate to specific aspects of the success of such transfers. Comparing the different types of coordination instruments, this chapter shows that not only the person-oriented, but also the structural and technocratic coordination instruments relate positively with the achievement of technology transfer goals. The study finds stronger relationships between the traditional coordination instruments and the technology transfer goals than between the modern management concepts and the technology transfer goals.

Originality/value

We believe that these results have important implications for the management of international technology transfers in particular and for the focus of future (international) management research in general. Future MNC research studies need to include traditional coordination instruments, since they continue to strongly influence organizational behavior and outcomes. This would help to make organizational research on MNCs more cumulative and complete.

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Purpose

This chapter bridges the gap between two distinct approaches to the concept of psychic distance – measuring it in terms of people’s perceptions of distance or in terms of exogenous national-level differences. The two approaches are reconciled in a “refined and integrative” definition of the concept, which is tested empirically using a mediating model.

Methodology

Structural equation modeling is used on a bilateral sample of 25 countries to test whether perceptions of psychic distance mediate the relationships between national-level differences and bilateral trade and investment.

Findings

By testing for alternative direct paths, the chapter confirms that for the main forms of national-level differences, culture, socioeconomic development, language, and religion, psychic distance fully mediates their relationships with both trade flows and investment patterns. However, for geographic distance, while the relationship is fully mediated for investment, it is only partially mediated for exports. Two asymmetric “distance-bridging” factors are also found to be significant antecedents of psychic distance.

Originality and implications

This chapter is the first to empirically demonstrate the mediating relationship between exogenous national-level differences and perceptions of psychic distance, and thus, provides new insights into the debate over which measurement approach is more appropriate. Perceptions of psychic distance, even if measured by expert panels rather than the actual decision-makers, fully capture the impact of national-level differences on trade and FDI flows; however, if such measures of perceptions are not available, a simple selection of four national-level differences will still capture 80% of the same effect.

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Purpose

This chapter examines the role of formal and informal institutions in foreign direct investment (FDI) dynamics.

Design/methodology/approach

We examine the effects of the quality of legal, political, and economic formal institution as well as the effect of institutional distance (based on new dataset) on bilateral inward FDI stocks in 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries for the period 1990–2010 using a gravity specification. Additionally, we also examine FDI for the effects of a specific informal institution – attitude of the public toward economic liberal issues. Reactions of FDI to liberal and nonliberal public opinion (part of informal institutions) are examined with and without controlling for formal institutions.

Findings

Findings show that the quality of legal and political institutions are important determinants of FDI, that legal and political institutional distance are both significant obstacles to FDI, and that public opinion also matters. We find that it is important to control for formal institutions when looking at the effect of informal institutions, and that both past liberal and nonliberal public opinion correlate with FDI, but only nonliberal public opinion significantly reduces inward FDI directly.

Research limitations/implications

Results are relevant for enterprises’ investment strategies, marketing strategies influencing public opinion as well as for policy makers, and governmental agencies involved in investment promotion programs.

Originality/value

Exploring the interplay between formal and informal institutions, institutional quality, institutional distance, and their effect on FDI in a bilateral panel.

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Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to make sense of the cultural distance paradox through a basic assessment of the cross-cultural comparability of cultural distance measures. Cultural distance between a base country and partner countries is a key construct in international business (IB). However, we propose that what exactly is measured by cultural distance is unique for each country that is chosen as the base country to/from which cultural distance to a set of partner countries is calculated.

Methodology/approach

We use a mathematical argument to establish that cultural distance may correlate rather differently with the culture of partner countries depending on which base country one considers, for example, the United States or China. We then use empirical analysis to show the relevance of this argument, using Hofstede’s data on national culture for 69 countries.

Findings

Results show that cultural distance indeed has very different correlations with partner country culture, depending on which country one selects as the base country in one’s distance calculations.

Practical implications

Implication of our findings is that measured cultural distance is not equivalent across different base countries. The effect of cultural distance on such issues as foreign market entry mode or market selection, therefore, lacks international generalizability.

Originality/value

This chapter presents the first assessment of the cross-cultural comparability of cultural distance. Paradoxical findings that plague extant cultural distance research may be understood from the found lack of measurement equivalence.

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Purpose

The study addresses the mechanism of how cultural dimensions influence the different dimensions of emotional intelligence. Building on the cascading model described by Joseph and Newman (2010), we extend our previous findings (Gunkel, Schlaegel, & Engle, 2014) by exploring the influence of cultural dimensions on a cascading model of emotional intelligence.

Methodology

We use survey data from 2,067 business students in nine countries (China, Colombia, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and the United States), representing 8 of the 11 cultural clusters identified by Ronen and Shenkar (2013).

Findings

We find that uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation have a positive influence on self-emotional appraisal, which in turn influence regulation of emotion, which then has a positive influence on the use of emotion. At the same time, others’ emotional appraisal mediates the relationship between all cultural dimensions except power distance and use of emotion. We also find that uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, and long-term orientation directly influence the use of emotion, suggesting a partial mediation effect.

Research limitations

Our findings have to be interpreted in the light of the limitations of our approach owing to the cross-sectional study design and the limited generalizability of the sample.

Originality

We contribute to the existing literature by examining the mechanism through which culture influences the different facets of emotional intelligence and whether and how the different facets affect each other. The proposed influence of culture on a cascading model of emotional intelligence provides a more detailed and nuanced understanding of the mechanism and the pathways in which culture affects emotional intelligence.

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Purpose

In this chapter, we align two approaches on the multinational enterprise (MNE), that is, research on languages and international business, and micropolitics, in order to establish the language-based underpinnings of micropolitical behavior in the MNE.

Design/methodology/approach

This theoretical chapter departs from a social, relational perspective on power relationships in the MNE. Power relationships are constituted in multilingual encounters between different language users.

Findings

Our analysis builds on the assumption that the mandated corporate language in the MNE, which often is English, results in a language hierarchy. This hierarchy creates inequality and tension between the languages in use in the MNE. However, language agents, that is, headquarters, foreign subsidiaries, teams, managers, and employees can – individually or collectively – change, challenge, and disrupt this hierarchical order. Their micropolitical behavior is essential for action as it redraws organizational structure, alters the degree of foreign subsidiary autonomy and control, redefines the privileged and the disadvantaged groups in the MNE, and reinforces subgroup formation and dynamics in multilingual teams.

Research implications

We highlight the important role played by language agents who sit at the interstices of organizational networks in the MNE. The interplay between their actions and motivations and their historical and situational contexts represents an underexplored and undertheorized area of study.

Practical implications

Senior managers in MNEs are frequently very competent or native users of the English language. Appreciating the continued existence of various languages has implications for how different MNE units can effectively connect and operate as an overall entity.

Originality/value

This chapter highlights the languages-based mechanisms that underpin power relationships in the MNE.

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Purpose

To analyze the industrial development of South, East, and Southeast Asian nations in terms of investment and trade and how the institutional environment – in particular, the government policy with regard to outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) – has played a role in this respect.

Methodology/approach

The chapter puts OFDI policy and industrial upgrading in newly industrialized, emerging, and developing Asian economies (NIEDAEs) in historical perspective to attempt to draw inference from their past behavior.

Findings

The chapter provides information about each NIEDAE’s experience with OFDI policy through a comparative analysis of OFDI promotional policy.

Practical implications

A useful source of information about each NIEDAE’s OFDI policy approach, the chapter attempts to draw recommendations for OFDI policy.

Originality/value

This chapter fulfills an information need and offers practical help to government policy makers.

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Purpose

In a globalized world where emerging markets are more important than ever, there is an increasing pressure on international businesses and governments to work together. The set of facilities known as commercial diplomacy combines the interests of both by highlighting new markets and investment opportunities.

Methodology/approach

In this chapter, we present a literature review based on 56 relevant publications to assess what we currently know of this important activity.

Findings

The results indicate that research on commercial diplomacy consists of many subtopics, resulting in a patchy understanding of the topic as a whole.

Research limitations/implications

We discuss why integrative research focusing on the business–government relationship and the organization and the value of commercial diplomacy are needed from an international business perspective.

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Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate that, despite the extensive literature on firm-specific advantages (FSAs) and country-specific advantages (CSAs) produced since Rugman’s classic matrix (1981), little progress has been made in empirically operationalizing the second concept.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a review of the international business (IB) literature that refers to the CSA concept, we identify the “vagueness” in the usage of this concept. First, we present a concise literature review of the CSA construct, with a link to the “double diamond” theoretical model of Rugman and D’Cruz (1993) and Rugman and Verbeke (1993). Second, we present the results of the bibliographic analysis on the use of the construct by a variety of authors.

Findings

We demonstrate the weak conceptual grounding of the CSA concept by reviewing the literature on host-CSAs attracting Chinese overseas foreign direct investment (OFDI). Apart from the fact that various authors use different sources of data, an important reason for contradictory results is the fact that each author tests host-CSA through different indicators. Here, we propose a list of variables and indicators based on the “double diamond” model and test these empirically.

Originality/value

IB researchers should start conducting serious studies on home-CSAs and host-CSAs instrumental to attracting investments, defining clear indicators and using replicable data based on publicly available information. This chapter is the first to show that the concepts developed by Rugman (1981) and expanded by Rugman, A. M. and Verbeke, A. (2008) (Internalization theory and its impact on the field of international business. Research in Global Strategic Management, 14, 155–174) are relevant to advance in the quantitative operationalization of concepts within IB theory.

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Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to examine the relationship between multi-national firms (MNEs), institutions and innovation.

Methodology/approach

We empirically examine the link between corruption and innovation within the environment of Russia. The use of data on foreign direct investment (FDI) from both emerging and developed markets provides us an opportunity to test whether the impact on innovation of different types of MNEs varies.

Findings

We find that, in the environments with high political risk, corruption may act as a hedge against such risks, boosting the scope and scale of innovation. We, however, find no support for the assumption that the experience at home of emerging country MNEs would offer them the advantage over the developed country MNEs in environments with weak institutions.

Research implications

One of the major implications of this study is that, in as geographically large country as Russia, it is critical to consider the factors affecting innovation output at sub-national level.

Originality/value

The study is novel as it is the first to examine how innovation is affected by institutions in general and corruption in particular. But in our approach, we use the measure of the actual rather than perceived corruption. Previous studies have largely focused on developed country MNEs; in this study, we examine the impact on innovation of investors from developed as well as emerging economies.

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Purpose

The chapter provides an economic explanation and perspectivation of strategic asset seeking of multinational enterprises from emerging economies (EMNEs) as a prominent feature of today’s global economy.

Approach

The authors apply and extend the “springboard perspective.” This perspective submits that EMNEs acquire strategic assets in developed markets primarily for use in their home markets.

Findings

The authors succumb that the springboard perspective is alluring theoretically as well as empirically as it suggests that when EMNEs acquire strategic assets, they experience liabilities of foreignness (LOF) that are low relative to those of MNEs from developed markets. The authors concede to this LOF asymmetry but also point out that liabilities of outsidership (LOO) can offset or weaken the home-market advantage of some EMNEs when competing with MNEs.

Research implications

LOO appears as the more relevant concept to use when explaining strategic asset seeking of EMNEs. A set of propositions are formulated to guide empirical testing.

Originality/value

The insights gained from using the springboard perspective and the LOO concept are non-trivial: They basically predict future dominance of ‘insider’ EMNEs at the expense of MNEs from developed markets.

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Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to conceptually analyze reverse transfers of human resource management practices from subsidiaries of transnational corporations in emerging markets to their headquarters in developed countries.

Methodology/approach

This is a conceptual chapter based on a review of the pertinent literature. Analysis is performed at the organizational and national levels.

Findings

We identify the type of transnational corporation best positioned to learn and utilize the potential of its emerging market subsidiaries to advance its human resource management practices. We further identify the types of practices best suited for reverse transfer.

Research limitations/implications

Empirical tests of our propositions are needed. We encourage researchers to extend our research by considering the regional (supra-national), industry and individual levels of analyses.

Practical implications

Managers are informed when and where potential for learning new practices is the greatest, and are urged to scrutinize those corporate units where such potentials exist, and yet transfers do not occur.

Originality/value

Emerging markets offer substantial learning potential for transnational corporations, yet most recent studies focus on transfer of technology and product innovations from subsidiaries, leaving the transfer of human resource management practices largely unexplored. Therefore, this study advances research on organizational knowledge and innovation management, and organization of transnational corporations.

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Purpose

In developed markets, emerging market multinational enterprises (EMNEs) seem to be more discriminated by host country nationals than foreign developed market multinational enterprises (DMNEs). They are challenged with host country nationals’ prejudices and face a stigma of being from emerging markets. While literature agrees that EMNEs suffer from additional disadvantages due to their country-of-origin, research fails to identify those factors that may lead to a higher discrimination against EMNEs than against foreign DMNEs.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on institutional theory, we look at institutional-related and resource-related antecedents that have an impact on various forms of direct and indirect discrimination by host country nationals.

Originality/value

Our framework analyzes the crucial differences between host country nationals’ perception of EMNEs and foreign DMNEs and the resulting challenges for EMNEs in the developed world. It enhances our understanding of the importance of institutional environments in explaining differences in host country nationals’ discrimination against foreign MNEs.

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Purpose

This study sheds light on the complex relationship between international diversification and firm performance and explores whether future performance expectations seem to drive managerial decisions related to internationalization issues.

Methodology/approach

We conducted in-depth investigation of five firms. This qualitative approach is allegedly better equipped to uncover the peculiarities of specific internationalization decisions by individual companies and the performance consequences derived from modifications in the degree of international diversification, which might go unnoticed in large-sample statistical analyses.

Findings

In line with Hennart’s (2007, 2011) and Verbeke and Brugman’s (2009) theoretical arguments, our findings indicate that no universal relationship should be expected between international diversification and firm performance. Rather, the performance consequences of internationalization-related decisions depend on the particular combinations of a firm’s characteristics and environment contingencies. Given managerial discretion, internationalization decisions would not be randomly made, but rather would be endogenous, and, as such, the relationship between multinationality and performance can only be understood if one takes a contingent approach. Additionally, internationalization decisions seem to be taken within a context of uncertainty regarding the future, which suggests that managers seem to approach internationalization with a long-term perspective and may in fact be “buying real options.”

Research limitations/implications

This study examined only five cases and they all relate to a particular type of firm: all are headquartered in a large emerging market with good domestic growth prospects, and each either is the leader or stands among the largest in its industry in the domestic market. While this relative homogeneity in the selection of the cases minimizes confounding factors, it suggests that findings may be specific to this particular (firm and market) context.

Practical implications

Managers should be aware that decisions that modify the international configuration of a firm might have distinct implications across different firms, given the particular (firm, industry, and environment) contingencies. Therefore, no universal normative orientation should be expected between international diversification and performance.

Originality/value

Although it is often implicitly assumed that managers make (informed) decisions with the objective of improving their firms’ (long-run) performance, there has been little discussion as to whether managers have detailed information about the expected performance implications arising from decisions that change the degree of international diversification of their firm and whether such decisions are driven by expected performance outcomes.

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Purpose

Since the beginning of the 21st century, China’s outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) is growing steadily and Chinese multinationals (MNCs) are playing an increasingly important role in the global economy. Thus, the number of papers focusing on China’s OFDI and Chinese MNCs has been increasing during the last years. The aim of this chapter is to carry out a review of the empirical papers dealing with Chinese MNCs published between 2002 and 2012 in high-impact international business and management journals.

Design/methodology/approach

This chapter reviews 43 empirical papers focusing on Chinese MNCs that were published in nine major scholarly journals between 2002 and 2012.

Findings

We report individual and institutional contributions, the theories and methods used, the research topics, and the main findings. We also discuss implications for future research.

Originality/value

Some previous literature reviews have dealt with research on China’s OFDI and Chinese MNCs. Nevertheless, none of the earlier reviews dealt specifically with empirical papers; neither did they provide an analysis of both individual and institutional contributions.

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DOI
10.1108/S1745-886220149
Publication date
2014-10-25
Book series
Progress in International Business Research
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78441-421-4
Book series ISSN
1745-8862