MNC co-operation

Product development in multinational corporations. Between institutional and organisational embeddedness of heterogeneous knowledge

To organise innovation processes multinational corporations (MNC) can count on an isolated project in only one subsidiary as well as they can count on corporation-wide and external co-operation. Compared with innovation projects, which are undertaken at only one location, such heterogeneous co-operation offers the chance to integrate also the knowledge of other locations and companies. At the same time they imply substantial challenges for MNCs, because heterogeneity increases clearly by transnational as well as by inter-company co-operation in development projects. In view of the uncertainties of innovation projects and the risks, which are connected with these different forms of heterogeneous co-operation, companies fall back on different forms of (socially constructed) security ("trust"), for example on company-wide control and coordination structures in MNCs or on reliable institutional regulations within the framework of national innovation systems.

The goal of this project is to shed light on the internal handling of these different forms of heterogeneous co-operation in the context of operational innovation projects. For this purpose there will be conducted eight case studies on innovation in German and British MNCs belonging to the sector of automotive and automotive supplier industry as well as to the sector of medical technology.

Scientific Coordinator

Project Researcher in Oldenburg

Dipl.-Soz. tech. Michael Florian

Dipl.-Kffr. Sinje Späth

Cooperation Partner in the United Kingdom


The project is financed by the German Research Foundation, 2008 - 2012


Sinje Späth, 2014 Transnationale Produktentwicklungsprozesse in multinationalen Unternehmen: institutionelle, macht- und organisationstheoretische Einflussfaktoren. Frankfurt am Main: Lang.

Martin Heidenreich, (ed.) 2012

Martin Heidenreich, 2012

Sinje Späth &
Jannika Mattes

Innovation and Institutional Embeddedness of Multinational Companies. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

The social embeddedness of multinational companies: a literature review. Socio-Economic Review 10 (3): 549-579
doi: 10.1093/ser/mws010.

Upgrading foreign subsidiaries in the case of a German multinational company : bargaining processes at strategic and operative levels
In: Competition and change : the journal of global business and political economy. S. 129-155



Conferences & Presentations

Sinje Späth, 2010

Distributed innovation processes in MNCs - Does learning take place and in what form?

Paper presented at the 2nd JM-CETRO Summer School, August, 2nd - 6th 2010
University of Oldenburg, Germany

Jannika Mattes &
Sinje Späth, 2011

MNC subsidiaries in emerging markets between exploitation and augmenting. The challenge of balancing hierarchy and heterarchy.

Paper presented at the SASE Annual Meeting:
Transformations of Contemporary Capitalism: Actors, Institutions, Processes
Madrid, Spain, June 23rd-25th, 2011

Martin Heidenreich &
Sinje Späth, 2011

Distributed innovation processes in MNCs -
The evolution of cross-border coordination & integration structures

Guest lecture at the IAW Bremen

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