Subsidiaries as Learning Engines: Understanding Middle Managers’ Search for Knowledge as Micro-Foundation
Tippmann, Sharkey-Scott, Mangematin (2011), Subsidiaries as Learning Engines: Understanding Middle Managers’ Search for Knowledge as Micro-Foundation. In: Hutson, Sinkovics, Berrill (eds) “Firm-level internationalisation, regionalism and globalisation” (provisional title), Palgrave
A lot of research on MNC knowledge flows has concentrated on the organizational conditions that promote learning through a more efficient reuse of existing knowledge. Departing from this predominant research stream and recognizing the important role of middle managers in learning processes, we investigated how subsidiary middle managers actually search for knowledge when dealing with problems and evaluated the outcomes in terms of generating organizational adaptation. Using multiple case studies of three ICT subsidiaries and 33 knowledge search processes, we uncover how subsidiary middle managers’ knowledge search which tackles distance and dynamically integrates diverse knowledge sources can generate learning outcomes. We thus argue that the middle managers’ pro-active and self-initiated search for knowledge is a micro-foundation of subsidiary learning. The findings contribute by offering a micro-perspective of how middle managers’ actions generate organization-level outcomes, extending theory on knowledge flows and subsidiary learning.