Governing Knowledge Sharing and Transfer in MNCs by Organizational Mechanisms Enabling Social Interaction
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This dissertation aims to contribute to the understanding of how multinational companies (MNCs) use organizational mechanisms enabling social interaction to govern knowledge sharing and transfer within the company. The international management literature has, over recent decades, shown an increased interest in the importance of social interaction in the government of knowledge processes and integration of units by MNCs. Even though research provides support for the association between social interaction and the sharing and transfer of knowledge, researchers have neither fully explained how MNCs leverage this association nor identified the underlying mechanisms whereby social interaction positively affects related processes and under what conditions. The dissertation consists of three papers: one literature review and two empirical studies. The literature review investigates how organizational mechanisms enabling social interaction are covered in the international management literature, with a specific focus on the role of socialization and social capital. The review identifies seven main categories covering 35 different mechanisms, which are defined as formal or informal. Additionally, the review proposes a model for how formal and informal mechanisms are connected to socialization and the development of social capital. The empirical papers report two different studies. The first investigates intra-organizational learning structures that enable social interaction among managers across borders and examines the extent of their association with strategic and HRM structures and the institutional context of the subsidiary’s operation. This paper investigates both company-level factors and institutional context as a macro factor influencing the focal subsidiary. The second empirical paper investigates the micro-foundations of knowledge sharing and transfers within formal knowledge networks in an MNC. The focus is on the interaction between knowledge-sharing behavior and knowledge application and how these processes are influenced by network management, structural social capital, and different types of autonomous motivation. Together, these papers contribute to the understanding of how MNCs use organizational mechanisms enabling social interaction to govern knowledge sharing and transfer within the company.