The Role of Context in Transferring Knowledge: A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Case Studies on Multinational Enterprises (MNEs)

Par Maike Simon, Susanne Royer

In this paper, our goal is twofold: First, we investigate how the headquarters (HQ) choice of knowledge transfer mechanisms is linked to (1) different types of organizational knowledge and (2) structural conditions. Second, we apply a meta-synthesis approach to cumulate empirical findings of a set of qualitative case studies which, due to the difficulty of the interpretation and generalization of results, generally tend to remain isolated, and their potential to advance knowledge in the field is largely ignored. By synthesizing primary case study evidence across a set of nine qualitative case studies, we show that HQ used a large set of measures to indirectly influence knowledge transfer in more decentralized companies. Put differently, by making conscious choices of how to transfer knowledge, MNEs can overcome structural impediments to its transfer. The technique used in this paper can be a source of inspiration for other researchers in this and related fields.
JEL Codes: F23

  • Knowledge Transfer Mechanisms
  • Structural Conditions
  • MNEs
  • Meta-synthesis
  • Qualitative Case Studies
  • Theory Extension.
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