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Evolving headquarters‐subsidiary dynamics in international R&D: the case of Japanese multinationals

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The paper identifies the evolving nature of headquarters‐subsidiary relations during the whole process of R&D internationalization. In‐depth data on five Japanese multinationals revealed that the role of overseas laboratories actually evolved over time, from the ‘starter’ to the ‘innovator’ and then to the ‘contributor’. Such a shift in role of overseas laboratories affected the nature of headquarters‐subsidiary relationship accordingly. ‘Semi‐connected freedom’ was identified as an optimal condition for the overseas laboratories to reconcile the two competing pressures: need for local autonomy and need for internal information connectivity. Various managerial steps were suggested for the laboratories to reach that state: increase in process linkage, active broker’s role, short‐term socialization, and project‐level socialization. Some practical and theoretical implications were drawn from this research, and future research direction was suggested.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Graduate School of Business Administration, Keio University, Yokohama 223–8523, Japan

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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