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Business as usual? An exploration of the determinants of success in the multinational transfer of corporate responsibility initiatives

  • Michael L. Barnett and Sunyoung Lee (a1)


Scholars have shown that corporate responsibility (CR) initiatives can create intangible assets that help MNCs reduce their liability of foreignness and even gain competitive advantage over local rivals. But scholars have not addressed the ability of MNCs to transfer CR initiatives to subsidiaries. This study builds theory about the conditions that influence success and failure in the transfer of CR practices from headquarters to overseas subsidiaries. We analyze CR transfers from the headquarters of an Indian multinational to its subsidiaries in China and the U.K. Our findings suggest that CR transfer differs in substantial ways from operational practice transfer. In particular, the ambiguity of the CR initiative, the social competency of the business unit transferring the CR initiative, and the active involvement of local stakeholders play significant roles in CR transfer success.


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* Rutgers Business School, Newark & New Brunswick, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 1 Washington Park, Room 1110, Newark, NJ 07102, USA, Phone: +(973) 353–3697, E-mail:


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