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Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 50, Issue 9, pp 1594–1621 | Cite as

Microfoundations in international management research: The case of knowledge sharing in multinational corporations

  • Nicolai J. Foss
  • Torben PedersenEmail author
Article

Abstract

Microfoundations have become an important theme in recent macro-management research. However, the international management (IM) field is an exception to this. We document the lack of attention on microfoundations in IM research by focusing on knowledge sharing – a key IM research field – which we investigate by means of a keyword-based literature study of the leading IM and general management journals. We discuss possible reasons why microfoundations have so far met with less resonance in IM research. We point to the training and background of IM scholars as possible reasons. We also highlight the significance that IM scholars place on context and structure in explanation. These may be seen as contrary to a microfoundations perspective, a view that we show is incorrect. We end by identifying several microfoundational issues in IM research, calling for a sustained effort with respect to theory, heuristics, and empirics.

Keywords

microfoundations context knowledge sharing subsidiaries 

Resume

Les Microfoundations sont devenues un thème important dans les recherches récentes sur le macromanagement. Toutefois, le champ du management international (MI) constitue une exception à cette règle. Nous démontrons le manque d’attention accordée aux fondements microéconomiques dans la recherche en MI en nous concentrant sur le partage des connaissances - un domaine de recherche clé en MI - que nous étudions au moyen d’une revue de littérature fondée sur des mots-clés des principales revues de MI et de management général. Nous discutons des raisons possibles pour lesquelles les microfondations ont rencontré moins d’écho jusqu’à présent dans la recherche en MI. Nous soulignons que la formation et le parcours des spécialistes du MI sont des raisons possibles. Nous présentons également comme explication l’importance que les spécialistes du MI accordent au contexte et à la structure. Ces éléments peuvent être perçus comme contraires à la perspective des microfondations, un point de vue que nous considérons comme erroné. Nous terminons en identifiant plusieurs questions microfondamentales pour la recherche en MI, ce qui exige un effort soutenu en ce qui concerne la théorie, l’heuristique et l’empirique.

Resumen

Los microfundamentos se han convertido en un tema importante en la investigación reciente en macro-gerencia. Sin embargo, el campo de la gerencia internacional (IM por sus iniciales en inglés) es una excepción a esto. Documentamos la falta de atención a los microfundamentos en la investigación de gerencia internacional al enfocarnos en conocimiento compartido -un campo clave de la investigación en gerencia internacional-, la cual investigamos mediante un estudio de la literatura basado en palabras clave en las revistas líderes de gerencia internacional y gerencia general. Discutimos posibles razones por las cuales los microfundamentos han encontrado menos resonancia hasta ahora en la investigación de gerencia internacional. Señalamos la capacitación y la formación de los académicos de gerencia internacional como posibles razones. También resaltamos la importancia que los académicos le otorgan al contexto y la estructura en la explicación. Estos pueden ser vistos como contrarios a la perspectiva de microfundamentos, una visión que mostramos es incorrecta. Terminamos identificando varios aspectos microfundamentales en la investigación de gerencia internacional, haciendo un llamado por un esfuerzo sostenido con respecto a la teoría, lo heurístico y lo empírico.

Resumo

Microfundações tornaram-se um tema importante em pesquisas recentes sobre macrogestão. No entanto, o campo de administração internacional (IM) é uma exceção a isso. Documentamos a falta de atenção a microfundações na pesquisa em IM concentrando-nos no compartilhamento de conhecimento - um campo chave na pesquisa em IM -, que investigamos por meio de um estudo da literatura com base em palavras-chave nos principais periódicos de IM e administração em geral. Discutimos possíveis razões pelas quais microfundações encontraram menos ressonância até o momento na pesquisa em IM. Apontamos a formação e o histórico de acadêmicos de IM como possíveis razões. Também destacamos a importância que acadêmicos de MI dão ao contexto e à estrutura na explanação. Esses podem ser vistos como contrários à perspectiva de microfundações, uma visão que mostramos ser incorreta. Concluímos por identificar várias questões microfundacionais na pesquisa de IM, pedindo um esforço sustentado em relação à teoria, heurística e empirismo.

摘要

微观基础已成为近期宏观管理研究的一个重要主题。但是, 国际管理(IM)领域是一个例外。 我们通过关注知识共享—一个关键的IM研究领域—来记录IM研究对微观基础缺乏关注, 我们通过对领先的IM和通用管理期刊基于关键词的文献研究进行调查。我们讨论了微观基础在IM研究中迄今为止所遇共鸣较少的可能原因。我们指出IM学者的训练和背景是可能的原因。 我们还强调了IM学者在解释中重视语境和结构的重要性。这些可能被认为与微观基础观相反, 而我们展示这样认为是不正确的。最后, 通过确定IM研究中的几个微观基础问题, 我们呼吁在理论、启发法和实证研究方面要持续努力。

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank, without implicating, Tina Ambos and two anonymous reviewers for excellent comments on earlier versions of this article.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management and TechnologyBocconi UniversityMilanItaly

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