The role of subsidiary dual embeddedness and absorptive capacity in a transition economy

Mehdi Rasouli Ghahroudi, Seyed Hossein Chabok, Kieran M. Conroy

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This study aims to focus on dual embeddedness as an important channel through which foreign subsidiaries access and share valuable and idiosyncratic knowledge within the multinational corporation (MNC). The authors examine the dual embeddedness challenges of foreign subsidiaries based in the context of Iran as a transitional market.

The final sample includes 144 active foreign subsidiaries in Iran from across a broad range of industries. A structured questionnaire was distributed to firms and structural equation modeling was adopted to analyze the results.

The findings reveal how building external embeddedness in an environment with potentially poor access to valuable knowledge, and risk of knowledge leakage impacts the subsidiary’s ability to subsequently transfer this knowledge within the MNC. The authors identify the significance of absorptive capacity as a way for the subsidiary to access knowledge from and share knowledge with firms in the local market.

Departing from existing work on subsidiary embeddedness in developed markets, the authors reveal how competence creating subsidiaries manage dual embeddedness and knowledge transfer in transition economies that are low in knowledge stocks. The authors unpack how subsidiary absorptive capacity enables access to local knowledge in a transitional market and increases reverse knowledge transfer in the MNC. In doing so, the authors answer calls for work on the dynamic and complementary relationships that exists between subsidiary dual embeddedness, absorptive capacity and knowledge sourcing in less open markets. Focusing on Iran as a transitional economy, this study provides greater contextual nuance to the extant literature on subsidiary dual embeddedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-409
Number of pages12
JournalMultinational Business Review
Issue number3
Early online date10 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2022


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