The HQ-driven Knowledge Transfer Process in an Industrial MNC: A Case Study of the Swedish MNC Epiroc

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: As multinational corporations are growing and becoming more complex, transferring important and relevant knowledge efficiently to peer units in the organization is crucial. However, most studies within the concept of knowledge transfer have focused on knowledge inflows and outflows to and from subsidiaries in the organization. Thus, limited research has had the headquarter as the focal unit of analysis. Although this study does include an investigation of the ability and motivation of subsidiaries to absorb knowledge, it has a strong focus on the ability and willingness of the headquarter to transfer knowledge to peer units in the organization during its transformation into a more dynamic organization. Therefore, the objective of this study is to grasp a deeper understanding in the field of knowledge transfer and make a contribution to the existing literature by fulfilling the purpose of investigating how MNCs´ HQ-driven knowledge transfer process unfolds. In order to reach the objective and the purpose of this study, a case study was conducted at the Swedish MNC named Epiroc, former part of the Atlas Copco group. As a result of seventeen interviews with people at different levels and from different units within the organization, it's evident that, from a knowledge transfer perspective, semi-autonomous subsidiaries and trust among individuals and organizational units are two aspects, not previously mentioned by existing literature, needed in order to facilitate the HQ-driven knowledge transfer. Moreover, the state of the MNC´s industry, the maturity of the subsidiary and the orchestration of resources, are, in addition to the traditional determinants of knowledge transfer, i.e. the ability and motivation to transfer and receive knowledge, significant determinants in the HQ-driven knowledge transfer process.

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