Although the literature provides ample evidence that the global transfer and local implementation of knowledge represents a key advantage for multinational corporations (MNCs), we lack comparable understanding as to whether knowledge-creating MNC parents can actively expand the absorptive capacity of their subsidiaries. Using a teacher–student lens, this study examines the combined impact of specific structural mechanisms and motivational processes by MNC parents on the ability of 216 subsidiaries to absorb parent-initiated marketing strategies. The findings reveal that MNC parents can indeed cultivate subsidiaries’ ability to appropriate marketing knowledge through a combination of adopting specific social structures and investing in particular efforts. However, the effect of social structure on subsidiary absorptive capacity is indirect, and accounted for by the parents’ intensity of effort.
Journal of International Business Studies, 2014, Vol 45, Issue 3, p. 303-320