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Micro-processes of translation in the transfer of practices from MNE headquarters to foreign subsidiaries: The role of subsidiary translators

  • Gabriela Gutierrez-Huerter OEmail author
  • Jeremy Moon
  • Stefan Gold
  • Wendy Chapple
Article

Abstract

Recent research has increasingly emphasized the micro-foundations of knowledge transformation in multi-national enterprises (MNEs). Although the literature has provided ample evidence of the enablers of and barriers to the translation of practices, less is known about the activities and efforts of translators that lead to specific types of translation in the context of the transfer of practices initiated at a MNE’s headquarters (HQ) to foreign subsidiaries. We apply a Scandinavian institutionalist approach to examine the translation of corporate social responsibility reporting, an HQ-initiated practice that is transferred to five foreign subsidiaries of a UK-based MNE. Our paper builds from a preliminary framework based on extant research to develop an extended framework of the micro-processes of translation. By theorizing the sequence of the micro-processes undertaken by translators, identifying the conditions under which they occur, and connecting them to the three types of translation, we provide a deep understanding of the micro-foundations of translation when transferring practices from HQ to subsidiaries. Our paper shows that translation is an evolving phenomenon and illuminates the importance of attending to the social, spatial, and temporal situatedness of translators. It also brings insights into the individual experience of institutional distance and its effects on translation.

Keywords

micro-foundations transfer of practices institutional theory translation corporate social responsibility reporting subsidiary managers multinational enterprises (MNEs) case-theoric approaches 

Résumé

Les recherches récentes mettent de plus en plus l’accent sur les micro-fondements de la transformation des connaissances dans les entreprises multinationales (EMN). Bien que la littérature ait fourni de nombreuses preuves concernant les facteurs facilitateurs et les obstacles à la traduction des pratiques, on en sait moins sur les activités et les efforts des traducteurs menant à des types spécifiques de traduction dans le contexte du transfert de pratiques du siège d’une EMN aux filiales étrangères. Nous appliquons une approche institutionnaliste scandinave pour examiner la traduction des rapports sur la responsabilité sociale des entreprises, une pratique initiée par le siège et transférée à cinq filiales étrangères d’une EMN établie au Royaume-Uni. Notre article s’appuie sur un cadre préliminaire fondé sur les recherches existantes pour développer un cadre étendu des microprocessus de traduction. En théorisant la séquence des microprocessus mis en œuvre par les traducteurs, en identifiant les conditions dans lesquelles ils se produisent et en les reliant aux trois types de traduction, nous fournissons une compréhension approfondie des micro-fondements de la traduction lors du transfert de pratiques du siège aux filiales. Notre article montre que la traduction est un phénomène en évolution et met en lumière l’importance de veiller à la situation sociale, spatiale et temporelle des traducteurs. Il apporte également des éclairages sur l’expérience individuelle de la distance institutionnelle et de ses effets sur la traduction.

Resumen

Las investigaciones recientes han enfatizado cada vez más los micro-fundamentos de la transformación del conocimiento en las empresas multinacionales (EMN). Aunque la literatura ha dado una evidencia amplia de los facilitadores y las barreras de las prácticas de traducción, menos se conoce sobre las actividades y los esfuerzos de los traductores que llevan a tipos específicos de traducción en el contexto de transferencia de las prácticas iniciadas en la casa matriz de una EMN hacia las filiales extranjeras. Aplicamos el enfoque institucionalista escandinavo para examinar la traducción de informes de responsabilidad social corporativa, una práctica iniciada por la casa matriz que es transferida a cinco filiales extranjeras de una EMN con sede en el Reino Unido. Nuestro artículo se basa en un marco preliminar con base en investigaciones existentes para desarrollar un marco extendido de los micro-procesos de traducción. Al teorizar la secuencia de los micro-procesos emprendidos por los traductores, identificando las condiciones bajo las cuales ocurren, y conectándolas a tres tipos de traducción, proporcionamos un entendimiento a profundidad de los micro-fundamentos de traducción cuando se transfieren prácticas de la casa matriz a las subsidiarias. Nuestro artículo muestra que la traducción es un fenómeno en evolución e ilumina la importancia de atender a la situación social, espacial y temporal de los traductores. También trae perspectivas sobre la experiencia individual de la distancia institucional y sus efectos en la traducción.

Resumo

Pesquisas recentes têm enfatizado cada vez mais os microfundamentos da transformação do conhecimento em empresas multinacionais (MNEs). Embora a literatura tenha fornecido ampla evidência dos facilitadores e das barreiras à tradução de práticas, pouco se sabe sobre as atividades e esforços dos tradutores que levam a tipos específicos de traduções no contexto da transferência de práticas iniciadas na sede da MNE (HQ) para subsidiárias estrangeiras. Aplicamos uma abordagem institucionalista escandinava para examinar a tradução de relatórios de responsabilidade social corporativa, uma prática iniciada pela HQ que é transferida para cinco subsidiárias estrangeiras de uma MNE baseada no Reino Unido. Nosso trabalho é estruturado a partir de um modelo preliminar baseado em pesquisas existentes para desenvolver um modelo estendido dos microprocessos de tradução. Ao teorizar a sequência dos microprocessos realizados por tradutores, identificando as condições sob as quais eles ocorrem, e conectando-os aos três tipos de tradução, fornecemos uma compreensão profunda dos microfundamentos da tradução ao transferir práticas da HQ para subsidiárias. Nosso artigo mostra que a tradução é um fenômeno em evolução e ilumina a importância de se atentar para o contexto social, espacial e temporal de tradutores. Ele também fornece insights sobre a experiência individual da distância institucional e seus efeitos na tradução.

摘要

最近的研究越来越多地强调跨国企业(MNEs)知识转型的微观基础。虽然文献提供了充分证据表明实践翻译的推动因素和障碍, 但我们对于在跨国企业总部 (HQ) 发起的向国外子公司的实践转移情境下导致特定类型翻译的翻译人员的活动和努力知之甚少。我们采用斯堪的纳维亚制度主义方法来检验企业社会责任报告的翻译, 这是一个由总部发起的向一家英国跨国企业的五个国外子公司转移的实践。我们的论文建立在现有研究的初步框架之上以开发一个扩展的翻译微观过程的框架。通过对翻译人员微观过程的顺序进行理论化, 确定它们发生的条件, 并将它们与三种类型的翻译联系起来, 我们提供了从总部向子公司转移实践时对翻译的微观基础的深刻理解。我们的论文表明, 翻译是一种不断发展的现象,并阐明了关注翻译者的社会、空间和时间位置的重要性。 它还可以对制度距离的个体经验及它对翻译的影响带来洞见.

Notes

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We thank Area Editor Professor Klaus E. Meyer and the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive guidance and insightful comments and suggestions. We are also very grateful for comments on early ideas and drafts of this paper from Tony Edwards, Shaz Ansari, Mike Humphreys and Johann Fortwengel. Previous drafts of the paper were presented at the 2015 European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium and the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management. The paper has also benefited from the feedback we received in the 2016 CSR paper development workshop at Cass Business School and the R&R seminar organized by the Strategy, International Management and Entrepreneurship (SIME) group at King’s Business School in 2017.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 59 kb)

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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriela Gutierrez-Huerter O
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeremy Moon
    • 2
  • Stefan Gold
    • 3
  • Wendy Chapple
    • 4
  1. 1.King’s Business SchoolKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Copenhagen Business SchoolCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Institute of Management and Business StudiesUniversity of KasselKasselGermany
  4. 4.Nottingham Business SchoolNottinghamUK

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