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Influences on Transfer Effectiveness: An Exploratory Study of Headquarters Transfer of Capabilities to Subunits in the Multinational Corporation
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4842-629X
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates factors that influence the effectiveness of headquarters’ transfers of capabilities to subunits in multinational corporations.

Received literature has emphasized that headquarters has a unique organizational position as the sender in such transfers. However, the allegedly different dynamics ascribed to headquarters-subunit transfers have received limited attention in research focusing on effectiveness; this suggests opportunities for exploratory studies with the potential to identify novel influences to transfer effectiveness.

This study utilizes an exploratory multiple-case study comparing the transfer by headquarters of a single capability to 18 subunit innovation projects with either high or low transfer effectiveness. The experiences of headquarters executives and the receiving innovation project teams and their supporting networks were captured through a total of 100 interviews. These experiences were analyzed with the purpose of identifying influences to transfer effectiveness that were common to project teams experiencing either high or low transfer effectiveness.

This thesis first identifies two factors that are novel to the literature in terms of how the interfaces between the new capability and the recipient unit networks, as well as the operational and commercial context of the recipient, influences transfer effectiveness. It then develops two factors that were previously known, first by developing our understanding of how the abilities of recipient project teams, and their supporting networks, fit with the transferred capability. Moreover, it emphasizes that recipient commitment may not only be driven by the recipient’s motivational disposition towards the transferred capability, but by the process through which the capability is transferred. The study then expands on the role of headquarters in transfers of capabilities to subunits by identifying how headquarters actions in terms of providing training and support to the receiving projects and their networks serve to moderate the factors relating to recipient abilities and commitment.

The influences briefly presented above combine to make for novel contributions to research on effectiveness in headquarters–subunit transfer of capabilities by identifying factors that the extant research has not emphasized. In so doing, this thesis suggests an alternative perspective for understanding influences to transfer effectiveness, as well as a number of avenues for future research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Företagsekonomiska institutionen , 2015. , viii+222 p.
Doctoral thesis / Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet, ISSN 1103-8454 ; 172
Keyword [en]
Capability Transfer, Transfer Effectiveness, Multinational Corporation
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-247791ISBN: 978-91-506-2452-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-247791DiVA: diva2:797440
Public defence
2015-05-13, Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)

Alternative title: Headquarters Transfer of Capabilities to Subunits in the Multinational Corporation, Challenges to Transfer Effectiveness

Available from: 2015-04-21 Created: 2015-03-24 Last updated: 2015-04-21

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