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Title: Team relationships, knowledge transfer, and human resource management in multinational companies : a comparison of R&D and marketing
Author: Kim, Euk Hwan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 9967
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2014
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This study examines the nature of knowledge creation and transfer in multinational companies and the configuration of the human resource management (HRM) system to sustain the relevant practices. It makes three contributions. Firstly, it argues that the nature of knowledge varies according to the organisation of work. Accordingly, it takes two functional activities, research and development (R&D) and marketing, and identifies the distinct processes of knowledge creation in each. Secondly, it also shows that the processes of knowledge transfer vary on the basis of project characteristics. Thirdly, it links debate on knowledge to debate on HRM and issues of ‘best practice’ or ‘best fit’. This research applies the best fit theory of HRM and the MNC knowledge transfer perspective to explain how and why the sets of HRM practices are configured. The basic premise is that the configurational approach of HRM systems based on different functional contexts is viable to MNC subsidiary settings. The perception of MNC employees confirms that HRM practices should be aligned internally with tasks and bundled to create better outcomes. Comparisons among tasks, work structures, or skill levels make a specific architecture of HRM practices internally consistent. Investigating the attributes of tasks and work structures is thus necessary for the understanding of HRM systems configured. Configurational fit related to knowledge processes has been explored mostly through qualitative approaches. This research employs quantitative approaches as well as a qualitative method to look into how, within the functional areas of R&D and marketing, knowledge is generated and transferred. These processes can be shaped by the industry context as well as the function. The research design thus takes two industries, ICT and automobiles, and looks at the functions within each. This produces a 2x2 research design. The subsidiaries of two Korean firms in each cell, that is eight subsidiaries in total, were studied through 35 interviews. These interviews shaped the design of a questionnaire that generated 558 responses from R&D and marketing employees in these eight subsidiaries plus eighteen others. In relation to knowledge creation, the study finds that there are greater complexity and interdependence in R&D than in marketing. This is true in both sectors. In relation to transfer, marketing subsidiaries are more embedded in their local context than their R&D counterparts are because marketing is directed at specific national markets while R&D is more related to the development of new products across the MNC as a whole. Factors such as cooperative work structures, work reporting types, information dependence, and decision autonomy in a subsidiary or the relationship with the parent company are identified as critical factors that distinguish R&D from marketing in knowledge processes. They bring about distinctive attributes such as procedural ambiguity, which requires a specific focus to support knowledge processes through the internal alignment of HRM. For example, the nature of performance incentives and the role of training differ between R&D and marketing subsidiaries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Warwick Business School
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD28 Management. Industrial Management