Bridging roles, social skill and embedded knowing in multinational organisations

Fenton-O'Creevy, Mark; Gooderham, Paul; Cerdin, Jean-Luc and Rønning, Rune (2011). Bridging roles, social skill and embedded knowing in multinational organisations. In: Dörrenbächer, Christoph and Geppert, Mike eds. Politics and Power in the Multinational Corporation: The Role of Institutions, Interests and Identities. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, pp. 101–138.



In this chapter, we use case studies of two multinational enterprisesto enquire into the micro-foundations of success and failure in the travel of practices within MNEs. We question the utility of ideas of "knowledge transfer" and focus instead on understanding the travel and translation of practices. We pay particular attention to managers in 'bridging roles' within MNEs and the way in which their skills, interests and career trajectories influence the travel of practices. We build on social capital theory in arguing that is important to consider managers' network positions and that bridging roles are of particular importance to the travel and translation of practices. However, we conclude that an account of the role of social capital in the travel of ideas and practices within MNCs needs to abandon the 'pipes' metaphor of knowlege flow, draw on an epistemology of practice, engage with the skilled agency of individuals in bridging roles and to consider the interaction between network position and prior experience, values and interests.

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