Managing the Embedded Multinational
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Managing the Embedded Multinational

A Business Network View

Mats Forsgren, Ulf Holm and Jan Johanson

This book expands the business network view on managerial issues in multinational corporations. Specifically, it scrutinises the importance of a subsidiary’s external and internal business network for its strategic and organizational role within the corporation.
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Chapter 12: Learning in the Embedded Multinational

Mats Forsgren, Ulf Holm and Jan Johanson


In the present chapter, the thread of the argument from Chapter 11 will be picked up again, but from a somewhat different angle. We will now extend the analysis on two fronts. We will look at relationships between sister units, that is to say corporate embeddedness, while also distinguishing between two kinds of relationship, namely those in which the parties conduct complementary activities, and those in which their activities are similar. This should give us a better understanding of learning as manifest in the generation of innovations and their dispersal in the Embedded MNC. In the following analysis we will first demonstrate two examples of learning processes in the Aspa corporation that are connected with the activities of Danke (see Chapter 3). In a subsequent step we present our theoretical argument suggesting among other things that the operational relationships between subsidiaries can be divided into two categories with regard to the interdependence of their activities, namely similarity and/or complementarity. We argue that the innovation transfer process is completely different between the two categories. We even claim that the expression ‘transfer of innovations’ (best practice, knowledge) is misleading in the second case, which is more concerned with mutual problem-solving between subsidiaries in their role as customers and/or suppliers. TWO EXAMPLES OF LEARNING PROCESSES IN ASPA As described in Chapter 7, one of Danke’s innovations consisted of a new type of beer-can box. This innovation stemmed from a relationship with one of its biggest (external) customers. The motivation behind the innovation was...

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