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Book cover: Progress In International Business Research

Progress In International Business Research

ISSN: 1745-8862
Series editor(s): Professor Rob van Tulder and Professor Alain Verbeke

Subject Area: International Business

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Subsidiary contribution to firm-level competitive advantage – disentangling the effects of MNC external embeddedness

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Title:Subsidiary contribution to firm-level competitive advantage – disentangling the effects of MNC external embeddedness
Author(s):Phillip C. Nell, Ulf Andersson, Bodo B. Schlegelmilch
Volume:5 Editor(s): José Pla-Barber, Joaquín Alegre ISBN: 978-0-85724-087-3 eISBN: 978-0-85724-088-0
Citation:Phillip C. Nell, Ulf Andersson, Bodo B. Schlegelmilch (2010), Subsidiary contribution to firm-level competitive advantage – disentangling the effects of MNC external embeddedness, in José Pla-Barber, Joaquín Alegre (ed.) Reshaping the Boundaries of the Firm in an Era of Global Interdependence (Progress In International Business Research, Volume 5), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.173-195
DOI:10.1108/S1745-8862(2010)0000005012 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article type:Chapter Item

Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to develop a more fine-grained model of the relationship between multinational corporation (MNC) external embeddedness and subsidiary contribution to firm-level competitive advantage.

Methodology/approach – We briefly review previous international management literature and show that the conception of MNC embeddedness in external networks is often simplistic. We develop the concept of the HQ–subsidiary dyad being externally embedded and derive propositions on how this more holistic concept of MNC embeddedness influences subsidiary contribution.

Findings – We argue that subsidiary contribution depends not only on the relational embeddedness dimension of the subsidiary but that there is a complex interplay between several embeddedness dimensions on multiple levels. We suggest that the much emphasized effect of subsidiary relational embeddedness might be contingent on the HQ's own relationships, and the structure of the overall network. We also develop propositions which show that subsidiary relational embeddedness mediates the relationship between overall network structure and subsidiary contribution.

Research limitations – For the sake of theoretical stringency, we keep other influencing factors such as MNC strategy and specific subsidiary mandates as constant.

Originality/value of the chapter – Subsidiaries are an important source of firm-level competitive advantage. Subsidiary resources have also been shown to develop to a large extent in relationships with external actors. Despite this importance, we argue that our understanding of how the MNC is embedded in external networks and how this in turn influences subsidiary contribution is limited. This chapter attempts to make a first step into filling this gap.

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