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Innovative Projects Between MNE Subsidiaries and Local Partners in China: Exploring Locations and Inter-organizational Trust

Juana Du and Christopher Williams

Journal of International Management, 2017, vol. 23, issue 1, 16-31

Abstract: We explore innovative projects carried out by MNE subsidiaries with local partners in China, focusing on the roles played by different components of inter-organizational trust with the local partners as well as features of the business environment in the specific location of the subsidiary. From a sample of 44 managers in MNE subsidiaries that we interviewed in three locations: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, we identify 33 cases of innovative projects with prominent local partner involvement. Using a qualitative, thematic analysis of the data, we gain new insights that explain innovative outcomes for the subsidiaries. Firstly, we find a tendency towards a sociological component of trust with local partners in Beijing in contrast to higher levels of an economic component of trust in Shanghai and Guangzhou. Secondly, we find that a successful outcome was noted by informants where the sociological component of trust was utilized in Beijing and the economic component of trust in Shanghai and Guangzhou. The findings highlight the interaction between business context and the nature of trust with local partners in determining innovative outcomes in an emerging economy. We discuss implications for managers and policy makers.

Keywords: Trust; Innovative projects; MNE subsidiary; China; Location (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:intman:v:23:y:2017:i:1:p:16-31