Barriers to knowledge seeking within MNC teams: Which differences matter most


Journal Article

© 2015 Academy of International Business. Do international or non-international differences between members matter most for multinational corporation (MNC) teams? We consider two types of international differences, arising from geographic locations and national origins, and two types of non-international differences, arising from structural affiliations and demographic attributes. Examining the barriers to knowledge seeking between MNC team members, we argue that whether international or non-international differences create greater barriers depends on whether they are position-based or person-based. Using the Social Relations Model to analyze 13,616 dyadic interactions among 2090 members of 289 teams in a large MNC, we find that, for both international and non-international differences, those that are position-based (i.e., geographic and structural differences) created greater barriers than those that are person-based (i.e., nationality and demographic differences). In addition, familiarity from a prior team reduced the barriers created by international and non-international differences that are position-based more than those that are person-based. We discuss the implications of our study for understanding the micro-foundations of knowledge flows in MNCs.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Haas, MR; Cummings, JN

Published Date

  • January 1, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 46 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 36 - 62

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1478-6990

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0047-2506

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1057/jibs.2014.37

Citation Source

  • Scopus