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Title: Entrepreneurship and subsidiary management in multinational corporations : a new theoretical and empirical perspective on knowledge networks and heterarchical organisation
Author: Williams, Christopher.
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis investigates how entrepreneurship is influenced by internal organisation in Multinational Corporations (MNCs). It provides fresh theoretical and empirical insights on MNC organisation and strategy, showing how intra-MNC knowledge networks and heterarchical communities enable corporate renewal. This thesis addresses the definition problem in the entrepreneurship field by conceptualising entrepreneurship as a perception-creation-change process. In the MNC context, this renewal process is intrinsically linked with subsidiary management aspects such as role, autonomy, relations and development. A new analytical framework for MNC entrepreneurship is then developed, consisting of two parts: (l) strategic investment and firm behavioural 'focussed entrepreneurship' and (2) emergent subsidiary level 'dispersed entrepreneurship' . Empirical investigation into the interface between subsidiary management and entrepreneurship follows with a mixed-method research strategy using focussed and dispersed operationalisations. For focussed entrepreneurship, cross-sectional resource allocations and longitudinal firm behaviour data show that MNC entrepreneurial stance is determined mainly by internal knowledge network characteristics, with more aggressive MNCs exploiting those networks with a higher risk orientation. Superior performance is shown as a contingency between stance and entrepreneurial obsolescence in the industry. For dispersed entrepreneurship, subsidiary manager perceptions elicited by survey and interview reveal how heterarchically oriented perception and creation variables, such as local initiative and political arena, affect MNC renewal. Entrepreneurial communities, distinct from those of practice and characterised by high boundary porosity and competitive purpose, are identified as critical reconciling mechanisms for mutual knowledge sharing during perception, creation and change. These new insights extend our understanding of MNC entrepreneurship whilst contributing to debates in international business research and theory development. Future research could investigate evolutionary paths of MNC entrepreneurial communities and emergent organisational forms with a multilevel research design. Future research could also analyse external network links and local embeddedness in order to understand how these communities develop and provide benefits and learning to external stakeholders as well as to the MNC. Normative implications of this study suggest MNC leaders should manage knowledge assets in terms of both firm-wide entrepreneurial orientation and boundary-spanning communities at the subsidiary-level to achieve an effective entrepreneurial organisation. Of particular concern to MNC managers is the adequacy of the internal knowledge network for the desired entrepreneurial orientation, requiring assessment and management in structural and relational terms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available