The sixth presenters in the MLGRG speaker series is Dr. John Cantwell, Distinguished Professor of International Business, Rutgers Business School, Rutgers University, USA. Friday, Sep 14, 2012


The presentation titled


Technological Distance and the Structure of MNC Subunit Knowledge

In a joint paper, Dr. Cantwell argued that the foreign subunits of multinational corporations (MNCs) have an important role to play in the search for relevant knowledge which is technologically distant from the traditional core domains of the firm. Hi explained that when MNC subunits create new knowledge that relies upon novel combinations of technologically more distant and core knowledge, this affects their relative reliance on internal and external sources of knowledge across geographic space. Focusing on the pharmaceutical industry in Germany, they find that as technological distance rises, firms rely more on both internal and external sources of knowledge accumulation. However, international internal sources are used for a more intensive cross-border exploitation of knowledge within a field, while local external sources are used more for the exploration of new knowledge combinations across distinct and more distant fields. Moreover, as international integration efforts rise, subunits rely more on intra-firm knowledge sources, but when international integration is combined with local responsiveness efforts, knowledge accumulation relies more on inter-organizational sources. These findings suggest that when subunits play a more creative role in knowledge generation within their corporate group, international knowledge exchanges in MNCs are enhanced (not reduced) and complement external sources.

John Cantwell is Distinguished Professor (Professor II) of International Business at Rutgers University in NJ, USA. He was previously Professor of International Economics at the University of Reading in the UK. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, the University of the Social Sciences, Toulouse, and the University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna. He is the author of Technological Innovation and Multinational Corporations (Basil Blackwell, 1989), which book helped to launch a new literature on multinational companies and international networks for technology creation, beyond merely international technology transfer, and which alone has a cumulative social science journal citation count of well over 250 (and currently 1,370 on Google Scholar). Altogether, John Cantwell has published twelve books, over 65 articles in refereed academic journals, and over 80 chapters in edited collections.


Dr. Cantwell is currently serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Business Studies from 2011-16. He was the President of the European International Business Academy (EIBA) in 1992, and in 2001 he was elected as one of four EIBA Founding Fellows. He served as the first Secretary of the EIBA Fellows from 2002-07. In 2005 he was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of International Business (AIB), and he was Vice President of the AIB in 2006-08, when he was responsible for the program of the annual conference of the AIB held in Milan in 2008. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the UK. Professor Cantwell was also an associate editor of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization from 2002-10.