Academic journal article Multinational Business Review

Knowledge Management Research Imperatives Governing Multinational Corporation Expansion

Academic journal article Multinational Business Review

Knowledge Management Research Imperatives Governing Multinational Corporation Expansion

Article excerpt


This paper examines the depth, erudition, and rigor of contemporary research on knowledge management as a causal factor that influences the ultimate outcome of multinational corporation (MNC) expansion, bounded by the confines of information and communication technology (ICT) competences identified as behavioral, business, and technological. Through discussion highlighting the dominant knowledge management (KM) research themes within the milieu of the global firm, readers will gain definitive and practical insight into relevant topics that may be used to stimulate development of growth strategies for the firm.


Motivated by the increased number of business partnerships between firms, blurring of corporate boundaries, and expansion of markets served, corporate strategists are grappling with identifying and locating sources of plausible sustainable competitive advantage. Once detected and analyzed, these constraining factors can be used to spur discussion, followed by subsequent development and implementation of information and communication technology (ICT) projects designed specifically to improve information and knowledge dispersion throughout the enterprise. Attempts to implement normative, best practice approaches to handling the knowledge management function may result in yielding an organized operating environment in which many of the firm's functions are handled by the most efficient means possible (Nah et al. 2005, Spencer 2003). In most of these cases, this necessitates significant investment into information system technologies to help firms overcome current business practices that hamper achievement of strategic goals and/or objectives. Hence, carefully doledout ICT not only streamlines internal information flow but also empowers the firm to be able to take a controlled deliberate approach to entering and prospering in new markets, irrespective of their location (Ljungberg 2004).

For those firms that make sizeable investments without careful consideration paid to how the knowledge management function will be handled by the firm, massive ICT investment may not only yield marginal or zero net improvement in terms of operational effectiveness but-perhaps more significantly-risks compromising and seriously eroding the ability of the firm to compete. At this point, the instigating rationale for these functional improvements becomes obviated by the developing need to perform damage control as a result of the misuse of ICT funds. Thus, it may be argued that premature investments into ICT may be curtailed through careful systems analysis that captures latent problems for which the application of ICT may prove moot. Within this framework, corporate executives become compelled to concomitantly think about the ways in which knowledge management could prove useful to the multinational corporation, especially since firms are competing more and more through innovation and idea-based concepts that can drastically improve firm performance.

This paper posits that the current ICT research and consequent findings in knowledge management literature fails to account for the full extent of the complexity of issues impacting the typical MNC knowledge management function and therefore yield inadequate solutions for top executives to effectively navigate their firms through the maze of global competition. Also missing from the research agenda is an adequate consideration of the lower level technological concerns and ICT competences that underpin and support the entire knowledge management value chain.


Complementing programs to improve the firm's capacity to innovate, successful firms are outdistancing laggards by expanding their operations beyond borders in pursuit of leveraging the organizational, locational, and internationalization (OLI) advantages of the "eclectic paradigm" (Dunning 1995). By all measures, the ability of these firms to achieve operational supremacy in these pursuits rests, in large measure, on the information and communication systems deployed to govern the management of well defined and highly organized information flow and idea creation throughout the firm (Mehta and Mehta 2005, Dyer and Hatch 2004, Scott 2000, Quinn et al. …

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