Internal challenges to knowledge sharing in Western R&D centers in China: A comparative case study

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Knowledge sharing activities have been recognised in previous studies as having a significant influence on capability building and increasing the likelihood for subsidiary mandate evolution. However, the underlying factors of subsidiary mandate evolution have not yet been explored. This article aims to shed light on the different internal knowledge sharing challenges in opposite subsidiary mandates in order to understand the mechanisms of subsidiary evolution. The study uses a comparative case study approach, with multiple sources of evidence collected during an eight-month research stay at two foreign subsidiaries in China. The findings illustrate that foreign subsidiaries with a competence-exploiting mandate face challenges that relate to headquarters’ mistrust, intra-organisational competition and a lack of host country understanding by headquarters in comparison to subsidiaries with a competence-creating mandate. Theoretically, the findings contribute to the microfoundations of subsidiary mandate evolution. From a managerial perspective, the findings reveal knowledge sharing challenges specific to the Chinese context that can guide management in multinational enterprises towards an improved subsidiary balance of empowerment and their increased inclusion into the global MNE network and ultimately reduce knowledge sharing challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date15 Dec 2018
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2018
EventEuropean International Business Academy Conference: EIBA 2018 - Poznań, Poland
Duration: 13 Dec 201815 Dec 2018


ConferenceEuropean International Business Academy Conference
Internet address


  • Subsidiary
  • R&D centre
  • Knowledge
  • China
  • Competence-creator
  • Qualitative study


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