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Transnational learning structures in multinational firms

[O Tregaskis], P Edwards, [T Edwards, A Ferner] and P Marginson
Human Relations, 63, 4, 471-99

Abstract

The role of national institutional context is often overlooked in analyses of learning behaviour in multinational organizations. Drawing on arguments from institutional theory and learning theory we consider the organizational contingencies, and the institutional context in which these are embedded, in explaining the use of structures to support learning across national borders. It is hypothesized that country of origin effects on subsidiary learning structures are mediated by two organizational contingencies, namely transnational human resource management governance structures and subsidiary global research and development expertise. To test this, structural equation modelling is used on a dataset of 292 foreign (including Japanese, US, French, German, Nordic) and home-owned subsidiaries operating in the UK. The results confirmed the hypothesized institutional effects. The evidence suggests that understanding the interaction between institutional and firm-level context is important in providing a fuller explanation of the types of learning structures subsidiaries are likely to engage with.