International business and MIS approaches to multinational organizational research:The cases of knowledge transfer and MIS workforce outsourcing. Fred Niederman Saint Louis University March 2004
Purpose • For topics of common interest, • MIS researchers do not reference IB research • IB researchers do not reference MIS research • But they could and should
Two Cases • Knowledge transfer • MIS personnel off-shoring
Knowledge Transfer – IB Perspective • Lord and Ranff (2000) • Marketing knowledge among subsidiaries • Implicit and explicit knowledge
Making transfer of knowledge easier • Less-tacit knowledge • More attention from corporate headquarters • More centralized organization structure • More incentives linked to such transfer of knowledge
Variables with no influence • Relatedness of the host and local countries • Corporate size • Division experience • Specific countries studied (e.g. Russia, China, and India) • * Corporate experience showed marginal influence
Ciborra and Andreu (2000) • Three loops • A routinization learning loop • whereby external resources are transformed by learned work practices • A capability learning loop • where work practices are transformed into organizational capabilities • A strategic loop • where the mission of the firm and the competitive environment screen capabilities in or out of the core capability circle.
Alavi and Leidner (2001) • Knowledge can be viewed from a number of distinct perspectives • A state of mind • An object • A process • Access to information • Capabilities for influencing actions • Results of processed data and/or information
Enriching Both Areas • A broader framework for multilevel theory in IB – the how as well as the how much • Detailed sets of influences and potential covariates for MIS effectiveness studies • New questions • How do tacit and explicit knowledge interact during transfer? • How do formal (e.g. database/digital libraries/web conferences) interact with informal (e.g. classroom, transfers, tutorials) • When are the various strategies, alone and in combination, most effective?
Outsourcing -- IB Perspective • Dunning’s Eclectic Paradigm (1977, 1981, 1988, 1993) of ownership, internalization, and location factors • Location factors will cause an organization to locate in multiple nations
Teece (2000) • Under what conditions is it best to develop new products… • from internal development • joint venture • strategic alliance • long term purchase agreement • simply buying it on the market?
Lacity and Willcocks line of research • A database of cases • Outsourcing projects requires outsourcing labor • Outsourced labor can be in the form of • Domestic org to foreign org • Domestic org to domestic org • Domestic org to domestic org with foreign division • Internal to domestic org with foreign division
MIS Personnel and Workforce Research • Descriptive study – Carmel and distributed development teams • Labor markets – Ang and Slaughter and Ferratt and Agarwal different organizational strategies • National preparation – Trauth and the Ireland case study
Conclusions • In Knowledge Transfer, MIS and IB contribute to deeper understanding of an important business phenomenon • In Personnel Outsourcing, MIS and IB each have the opportunity to raise and address influential business issues • Research in MIS is often “operational” asking how firms can/should do something; IB is often “strategic” asking how what influences have led to particular firm actions in the marketplace • The blending of these concerns lead to opportunities to strengthen both lines of research and to the posing of new questions of interest to practice and research