Exploring the strategic role of subsidiaries in competence-creation

*Guest editors: Rajneesh Narula and Alan Rugman*

*Henley Business School, University of Reading*

MNEs are becoming increasingly knowledge driven and growing cross-border 
competition has led them to seek and develop knowledge assets in a wide 
variety of locations.Increasingly, the traditional view that knowledge 
creation and competence building are MNE-level phenomenon has been 
called into question. Competences are increasingly developed at the 
subsidiary level, although the extent to which this occurs is dependent 
upon a variety of factors, such as the degree of the subsidiary's 
embeddedness within the MNE's internal network as well as its external 
environment. The subsidiary's ability to play this dual role of tapping 
into local knowledge and engaging in knowledge exchange with other units 
is further influenced by the nature of its own mandate, the MNE's 
corporate strategy and the aspect of the value chain the subsidiary is 
engaged in. Large MNEs consist of a network of subsidiaries that are 
spatially distributed and perform heterogeneous functions.

This special issue of Long Range Planning examines the role of 
subsidiaries in the creation of knowledge and competence in MNEs.We 
welcome papers from a variety of contexts that advance our theoretical 
and empirical understanding of the processes that shape and determine 
subsidiary and competence-creation strategies. Key questions that may be 
addressed include:

·As these networks grow increasingly complex, with the fine-slicing of 
value chains, the use of non-equity relationships and multiple 
headquarters, how should MNEs most efficiently manage the knowledge 
generated by subsidiaries so that they can derive optimal benefits from 

·Competence-creating subsidiaries require considerable resources. Does 
this limit their use to larger MNEs? Is the role of competence-creating 
subsidiaries more limited than suggested by the literature, or a broader 

·How do competence-creating subsidiaries evolve into this role?

·Efficiently transferring newly created competences within the MNE's 
internal network require specialised complementary organisational and 
managerial assets. What is the nature of these complementary assets?

·Do we need a new typology of MNE organisational structures?

·To what extent do foreign subsidiaries serve as sources of 
technological capabilities and contribute to the exchange of knowledge 
in the MNE?

·What are the sources and implications of MNE subsidiary development? 
Does the competence-creating subsidiary require new theoretical approaches?

·Does subsidiary entry mode influence subsidiary technological 
evolution? What are the interactions between host country advantages and 
subsidiary technological evolution?

·What is the relationship between the knowledge infrastructure of the 
host country, and the kinds of linkages subsidiaries establish? Are 
there differences between subsidiaries located in different types of 
host countries?

·How do MNEs balance knowledge-tapping opportunities and knowledge 
spill-over risks for subsidiaries?

All submissions are expected to develop strong theoretical foundations 
and implement rigorous methodologies. These include quantitative 
studies, qualitative and case studies, multi-country comparative 
studies, replication studies and studies of specific subsidiaries and MNEs.


Submissions will be accepted from July 1, 2011 until the submission 
deadline of November 1, 2011.Manuscripts should be prepared according to 
LRP's guidelines for authors, and will be reviewed in a double-blind 
review process. The review process adheres to a very ambitious schedule 
that aims at providing quick feedback to the authors and allows for two 
rounds of revisions on the manuscripts. Submission guidelines are 
available at

Papers may be submitted online at should 
clearly indicate (both on the coversheet, as well as during the 
submission process) that they are to be considered for this special issue.

General enquiries about the special issue may be made to either of the 
special issue editors:

Rajneesh Narula: [log in to unmask] 
<mailto:[log in to unmask]>

Alan Rugman: [log in to unmask] 
<mailto:[log in to unmask]>

Rajneesh Narula
Professor of International Business Regulation
Director, John H. Dunning Centre for International Business
Henley Business School
University of Reading, UK

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