Department of Business Studies

Management of the Multinational Corporation

Our research on managing the multinational corporation has developed from studies of the internationalisation process of the firm and from insights made through “the business as network approach” at Uppsala University. The aim is to continue developing our traditional research areas whilst recognising the emerging shifts of the global economy, which has led to a number of new projects.


Competition and cooperation within multinational corporations

This project focuses on the interplay of competition and cooperation within MNCs. Units/subsidiaries are often expected to collaborate at the same time as the governing of the units rests on competition for limited resources, attention and position. This duality is a major challenge for MNCs that seek to manage their intra-organizational knowledge flows, internalize globally coordinated operations as well as differentiate various units’ roles. How this duality influences the subsidiaries needs to be further researched. 

Project leader: Cecilia Pahlberg
Project members: Katarina Lagerström, Roger Schweizer and Emilene Leite
Duration: 2018-2021

Conceptualizing firms’ disintegration- A process perspective

M&As have fascinated researchers for decades, not at least as many firms experience them as disappointing. A neglected consequence of the high failure rates is the increasing number of demergers. Firms that demerge need to disintegrate previously integrated activities. Whereas, research is heavily focused on the integration process the disintegration process is overlooked. Thus, the purpose is to contribute to strategic management research and to M&A literature by developing a conceptual framework for firms’ disintegration process following a demerger.

Project members: Katarina Lagerström and Roger Schweizer

Headquarters knowledge and the generation of value in multinational companies

This project focuses on headquarters knowledge and how it relates to the possibilities of contributing to value generation in multinational companies. Research indicates that headquarters intervention in subsidiary activities may negatively affect for example innovation performance. We argue that headquarters ability to generate value for its subsidiaries is contingent on its learning processes and knowledge about internal and external relationships. However, research has paid limited attention to these problems. We do not know a lot about how headquarters generate knowledge that provides the foundation for its actions. Also, we know little about knowledge contingencies required for potentially generating value. Moreover, there is a dearth of research and a paucity of knowledge related to what is construed as valuable from the perspective of different actors. Consequently, the focus of the project is on (a) headquarters knowledge sources, (b) headquarters interventions in subsidiary activities with the intention of adding value, (c) perceptions of headquarters value added, and (d) performance implications of headquarters value added attempts for subsidiaries and the multinational corporation.

Project leader: Henrik Dellestrand
Project members: Olof Lindahl, Amalia Nilsson, Francesco Ciabuschi, Ulf Holm and Mats Forsgren
Duration: 2015-2018
Financed by: Handelsbankens forskningsstiftelser

Opportunity recognition in the multinational corporation

This project investigates global opportunity development by multinational corporations (MNCs). It traces back significant new products and services in Swedish MNCs to their origins, identifies and categorizes the underlying opportunity recognition processes, and examines those attributes of opportunity recognition and development that are unique to the MNC context.

Project leader: Gundula Lücke
Duration: 2017-2019
Financed by: Lars Erik Lundbergs Stiftelse för Forskning och Utbildning, Handelsbankens Forskningsstiftelser

SMNC management: Reverse knowledge transfer in state-owned multinationals. A study of political embeddedness

State-Owned Multinational Corporations (SMNCs), especially those from emerging markets, have become important outward investors with implications for both home and host economies. However, research is still limited and international business theories about MNCs have not considered the state-ownership aspect in their conceptualization. In this project, we intend first to study the influence of political embeddedness (PE) of SMNCs on their international strategy and market-entry decision-making, second to explore the consequence of PE on the local strategy and evolution of subsidiaries in SMNCs, and third to investigate the potential effects of SMNCs’ (politically influenced) activities on their competition in the host markets.

Project leader: Francesco Ciabuschi
Project members: Ulf Holm, Cong Su, Lingshuan Kong  
Duration: 2013-2018

The evolutionary growth of subsidiaries - The internationalization of R&D capabilities 

The aim of the research project is to contribute to the research on the internationalization R&D capability in MNCs. We adopt a process perspective to study how subsidiary R&D capabilities are built up in order for the MNC to take advantage of innovative and resource-efficient products and service in emerging markets.

Project members: Johan Jakobsson, Katarina Lagerström and Roger Schweizer

The frustration of subsidiary managers: communicating business opportunities from the periphery to headquarters of multinational corporations (Part two)

Given that innovation and development are key to the competitive advantage of multinational companies, a good and effective communication about business opportunities is a condition for success. We study how opportunities for new business development discovered in foreign units of multinational companies are communicated and adopted within the multinational organization. Following up our previous case study we conduct cross-sectional studies on the communication between subsidiary managers and headquarters in order to develop and test concepts and variables that play a role.

Project leader: Desirée Blankenburg Holm
Project members: Desirée Blankenburg Holm, Rian Drogendijk and Hammad ul Haq
Duration: 2016-2018
Financed by: Jan Wallander’s and Tom Hedeliu’s research foundation, Svenska Handelsbanken

The go/no go decision: The acceptance/rejection of subsidiary R&D initiatives in MNCs

In this project we approach the ongoing research on the configuration and use of dispersed and differentiated R&D capabilities among MNC subsidiaries. Research has shown that R&D resources that emerge at the subsidiary level are quite under-utilized. Consequently, it been suggested that subsidiaries themselves should take an entrepreneurial stance and create so called subsidiary initiatives to get recognition and leverage of their R&D capabilities. Subsidiary initiatives are proactive, autonomous and risk-taking activities that originate outside the home country in a foreign subsidiary of an MNC. Since much research has been occupied with the study of the existence of subsidiary initiatives and how they emerge, we intend to contribute with an understanding about the selection processes surrounding subsidiary R&D initiatives within MNCs. In most MNCs, at least a certain portion of initiatives emerging at the foreign subsidiaries depend on some kind of formal approval and resource allocation by the headquarters in order to be pursued and implemented. However, we still know rather little about why subsidiary R&D initiatives are accepted or rejected by the headquarters. Hence, this project adds to our knowledge about the determinants and conditions underlying R&D initiative selection at the MNC headquarters.

Project leader: Katarina Lagerström
Project members: Alexander Gorgijevski, Christine Holmström Lind and Katarina Lagerström
Duration: 2017-2020
Financed by: Jan Wallander’s and Tom Hedeliu’s research foundation, Svenska Handelsbanken

Conference papers
Gorgijevski, A., Holmström Lind, C., Lagerström, K. Initiative Selling Activities for Headquarters Acceptance of Subsidiary Initiatives. Presented at Academy of International Business 2017, Dubai, UAE.

Gorgijevski, A., Holmström Lind, C., Lagerström, K. How to Make Waves in a Huge Pond? The Importance of Attention-Building Behaviour among Subsidiaries to Gain Strategic Influence. Presented at Academy of International Business 2018, Minneapolis, USA.