This paper examines the competence development of subsidiaries in multinational enterprises. We analyze how local subsidiary environments affect the development of technological and business competencies among other units in the multinational enterprise. We test our predictions using data from 2,107 foreign-owned subsidiaries located in seven European countries, by means of structural equation modeling — namely, LISREL. By bringing the local environment to the fore, we contribute to the literature on the emergence and determinants of firm-specific advantages. We link local subsidiary environments to the development of the competencies of other units in the multinational enterprise. The role of the multinational enterprise is characterized as integrative, as it may bridge local competencies and environments that are conducive to competence creation, and as it facilitates the use of resources residing locally throughout the organization. Thus, we contribute to an enhanced understanding of location as a determinant of the creation of units of competence and centers of excellence within multinational enterprises. In other words, we demonstrate that country-specific advantages are beneficial for competence creation in units other than the local subsidiary. We thereby link country-specific advantages to the creation of firm-specific advantages in the multinational enterprise — i.e., the multinational enterprise can build and augment firm-specific advantages by making the most of country-specific advantages.
Long Range Planning, 2014, Vol 47, Issue 1-2, p. 87-99