Transferring knowledge of manufacturing techniques in multinational corporations: preliminary findings

Jamsari Alias, David Bennett, Matthew Hall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


With the growth of the multinational corporation (MNC) has come the need
to understand how parent companies transfer knowledge to, and manage the
operations of, their subsidiaries. This is of particular interest to manufacturing
companies transferring their operations overseas. Japanese companies in particular have been pioneering in this regard, with techniques such as the Toyota Production System (TPS) for transferring the ethos of Japanese manufacturing and maintaining quality and control in overseas subsidiaries. A great deal has been written about the process of transferring Japanese manufacturing techniques, but much less is understood about how the subsidiaries themselves, which are required to make use of such techniques, actually acquire and incorporate them into their operations. The research on which this paper is based therefore examines how, from the perspective of the subsidiary, knowledge of manufacturing techniques is transferred from the parent company.
There is clearly a need to take a practice-based view to understanding how the local managers and operatives incorporate knowledge about manufacturing techniques into their working practices. In-depth qualitative research was, therefore, conducted in the subsidiary of a Japanese multinational, Denso Corporation, involving three main manufacturing initiatives (or philosophies), namely ‘TPS’, ‘TPM’ and ‘TS’. The case data were derived from 52 in-depth interviews with project members, moderate participant observations, and documentations. The aim of this paper is to present the preliminary findings from the case analyses. The research contributes to our understanding of knowledge transfer in relation to the circumstances of the selection between adaptation and replication of knowledge in the subsidiary from its parent. In particular this understanding relates to transfer across different flows and levels in the organisational hierarchy, how the whole process is managed, and also how modification takes place.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Third European Conference on Management of Technology
EditorsD. Jolly
ISBN (Print)0-9815817-1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Event3rd European Conference on Management of Technology - Nice, France
Duration: 17 Sep 200819 Sep 2008


Conference3rd European Conference on Management of Technology
Abbreviated titleCERAM/IAMOT


  • knowledge transfer
  • subsidiary in MNC
  • in-depth practice-based view


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