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Knowledge Transfer in Product Development: an Analysis of Brazilian Subsidiaries of Multinational Corporations

Author(s): Dusan Schreiber | Dalton Chaves Vilela Junior | Lilia Maria Vargas | Antonio Carlos Gastaud Maçada

Journal: BAR : Brazilian Administration Review
ISSN 1807-7692

Volume: 8;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 288;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: knowledge transfer | product development | multinational corporations.

Several studies about knowledge transfer in multinational corporations have found that the process is influenced by factors such as absorptive capacity, tacit knowledge and power relations, all of which impact knowledge sharing strategies between corporate headquarters and foreign subsidiaries. A multiple case study of Brazilian subsidiaries of three multinational corporations using in-depth interviews, based on a conceptual model consisting of four propositions, was conducted to identify factors linked to the knowledge transfer process and to assess their influence on that transfer. The first proposition tries to assess explicit knowledge, primarily through the use of IT tools; the second analyzes the role of the subsidiary within the corporate network and how it influences the degree of knowledge sharing. The third assesses the influence of subsidiary absorptive capacity and the fourth analyzes the impact of worker exchange programs on knowledge sharing between headquarters and foreign subsidiaries. Study results confirm the four propositions and enable the identification of relationships between factors, especially explicit knowledge and worker expatriation as complementary factors in knowledge transfer strategies.

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