Mälardalen University

Gillmore, E. (2017)

Four Essays on Subsidiary Evolution: Exploring the Antecedents, Contexts and Outcomes of Mandate loss, Doctoral Dissertation #239, Mälardalen University.

The emergence of enhancement or depletion of subsidiary charters is driven by two different types of organizational units and the environment. (1) The parent is ultimately responsible for the establishment of subsidiaries and will greatly impact its evolution by involvement. (2) Evolution is also largely contingent on the subsidiary’s choice. (3) The environment is critical in the evolutionary process as changes in the environment will influence the parent and subsidiary in their choices (Birkinshaw, 1996; Birkinshaw and Hood, 1998; Cantwell and Mudambi, 2005). The thesis sets out to investigate the drivers and effects of mandating on subsidiary evolution within the MNE. The departure in this thesis from the literature is its specific focus on how mandates are lost in complex networked Multinational Enterprise’s (MNE) and the effect this has on subsidiary resources and relationship development.

This thesis bases its empirical analysis on data collected from two qualitative rounds of interviews collected in two Swedish multinational enterprises, Alfa and Beta, and 36 of their foreign subsidiaries based in Europe, China, India and N. America. This yielded 112 interviews, the first round of interviews investigates the headquarters drivers of mandating and the network characteristics of mandated subsidiaries. It became apparent during this first round that mandates were lost by subsidiaries quite often and that they continued operating. These counterfactuals informed the second round of interviews, here the focus zooms in on the consequences of the loss of R&D mandates on subsidiary evolution. Specifically, the thesis examines the resource and relationship characteristics of the focal subsidiaries and the impact of mandate loss.

The study builds on four essays that taken together suggests if the MNE relocates mandates with the purpose of accessing resources, efficiency seeking, or as a response to endogenous and/or exogenous pressures, the process of mandating presents subsidiaries, that are not wound-down, spun-off or closed, with the opportunity and space to evolve its charter. This has far-reaching possible consequences for both the subsidiary and the MNE not least in resource and relationship combinations and orchestration and managing capabilities. Secondly, the thesis calls into question the importance of mandates and that researchers should pay more attention to the formal and informal tenets of mandates i.e. the combinations of mandate relationships and resources. The mandate is a well established indicator of the subsidiaries formal activities and responsibilities, however, it is not indicative of the informal behavior of a subsidiary which in this thesis is shown to be important in equal parts for the subsidiary’s evolution.

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Sundström, A. (2015)

Old Swedish Business in New international Clothes: Case studies on the Management of Strategic Resources in Foreign-Acquired Swedish R&D firms, Doctoral Dissertation #186, Mälardalen University.

Which conditions are needed for research and development firms to stay competitive? Such firms must continually develop new products and processes if they are to provide their customers with value, and equal, if not exceed, the offerings their competitors provide. Firms that lack sufficient innovation and creativity risk losing customers, their reputation, and their position in corporate structures and in their industries.

Even worse, they may be forced to liquidate their assets, file for bankruptcy, merge with other divisions, or be sold. There are many possibilities, and few of them can be said to be positive for the firm, its owners, or its employees. However, this thesis tells the story of how a Sweden-based firm, which was divided and sold to foreign, multinational corporations, survived as three separate research and development firms in southern Sweden. It examines how these three firms (all working in air handling technology) built on their historic legacy and continued as significant players in their industry.

The analysis takes a resource-based view in its examination of the firms’ competitive advantage derived from its resources and resource management. The examination is based on Jay Barney’s VRIN framework and Robert Simons’s Levers of Control framework. The analysis identifies and describes the firms’ technical, financial, human and relationship resources, and analyses whether these resources are strategic or complementary.It confirms previous research that finds research and development firms can stay competitive if they have strategic resources such as test facilities, employees with expertise and experience, and strong relationships with suppliers and customers. It also finds that complementary resources such as information technology contribute to the competitiveness of research and development firms.

The contribution of this thesis to previous research is its analysis of the significant role management control has in managing the resources of research and development firms. The thesis develops a management control model for such firms – the Integrated Resource Management model – that has four alternatives resource management strategies. These strategies are: Bureaucratic Resource Management, Structured Resource Management, Flexible Resource Management, and Explorative Resource Management.

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Grinbergs, J. (2014)

Pratnerskap – Ett sätt att organisera regional tillväxt. Perspektiv på regional utveckling som fenomen och en analys av ett tillväxtprogram, Doctoral Dissertation #158, Mälardalen University.

During the first decade of the 21st century, there has been a shift in the view of what role regions should play in the creation of growth. From being governed from a national level more and more of the responsibility of creating growth is being transferred to a regional level. One example of this development has been the Regional Growth Program (RGP), which were implemented in all regions in Sweden during the period 2004 to 2007. This dissertation studies the RGP in the county of Västmanland, where a number of actors within the program have been interviewed as well as meetings within the program have been monitored. The interviews have been analyzed through a phenomenological oriented method which has resulted in six empirical themes. They consist of the following themes: region, growth, entrepreneurship, cooperation and competition, results, and talk and action. The last theme which concerns talk and action is being examined more thoroughly through the observations of meetings in the RGP and interviews with central actors. This theme is viewed as the most central and essential theme of the study. The dominating view of the central actors is that there is “too much talk and too little action” in the RGP

In the latter part of the dissertation the theme of talk and action is examined further using a organizational perspective. The RGP is organized in so called “partnerships”, where the differences become very clear when compared to organization in a more traditional form. In traditional organizations, output can be observed as manufactured units or the value created in services performed. From such a perspective, consensus, efficiency and action – becomes the rational to strive for to maximize the effectiveness. Such a traditional view of organization is less useful for RGP – but is still in use since they are the dominant perspectives on how we value “good” organizing. In the case of the RGP the partnership have being assigned to cooperate and find new, better ways to stimulate the regional growth. The success of the partnership is still measured by quantitative indicators, which is not very logical since it is almost impossible to see if the partnership has had anything to do with affecting these indicators.

With the support of theories from Brunsson (2006) I therefore propose the “talk organization” as an alternative to the “action organization” – and also see the potential of redefining the partnership as a form of such a talk organization. The advantages of such an approach could be to view the talking as an important prerequisite to potential action, and furthermore we can revalue the importance of creating talk opportunities to occur in such partnerships. This creates a view full of conflicts in relating to the traditional view of organization that advocates consensus and order – but in the supposedly creative talking partnerships the issue may be to uphold conflict, and a wide range of different views  to be able to create something new. The dissertation has a theoretical focus that highlights the connection, but also contradictions, between the structural and symbolic in organizing and also how it may affect the potential for development and change.

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Eklinder-Frick, J. (2014).

Sowing Seeds for Innovation – The Impact of Social Capital in Regional Strategic Networks, Doctoral Dissertation #155, Mälardalen University.

In order to promote regional innovation and stronger social coherence the European Union has set goals to become the world’s most competitive, dynamic, and knowledge-based economy. These ambitious goals are supported by funds allocated to regional strategic networks (also called cluster initiatives). Usually, the management of regional strategic networks is left to the discretion of the project leaders. However, the industry agglomeration model which constitutes the foundation for regional development policies fails to consider the social context. It also overemphasizes the relevance of a linear approach towards innovation which is problematic, as this fails to consider the conditions for implementation in different contexts.

This thesis builds upon data from two case studies of regional strategic networks (Firsam at Söderhamn and FPX at Gävle) and serves to describe (1) how the management group of an RSN creates the prerequisite for an innovative milieu by analyzing the effects that social capital imposes on social interaction, and (2) how a policy initiated innovation process is supported by an RSN management group by analyzing resource interaction between the developing, producing and using settings.

As a conclusion it is stated that a manager of a regional strategic network should balance the bridging and bonding forces that social capital produces. Under some circumstances it might be advantageous to form tightly knit groups that can foster trust and cultural proximity. In other cases loosely knit groups might be preferable where novel information is exchanged between previously unconnected actors. Also, the innovation construct is applied in the thesis to denote the process where resources are combined in new ways within existing structures to offer new solutions in the market. The manager of a regional strategic network must consider not only the setting in which an invention is developed but also the settings where new solutions are converted into products and those where they are brought to use.

The performance of the investigated development initiatives indicates that merely funding regional strategic networks is insufficient to spur regional growth. It is not as easy as merely sowing seed for innovation; it must also fall on good soil.

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