International Management

Current research

The Institute for International Management is actively engaged in international research projects concerning the globalisation of economic activity and the implications for patterns of work and governance.

Globalising actors / activists in multinational companies

The Institute is currently involved in a major ongoing ESRC-funded project investigating globalising actors, namely those who create, disseminate and implement new global norms in multinational companies. This project involves partners from different institutions located in various countries around the world, including Canada and South Korea. The project relates to a broader research interest in the Institute, which involves the role of individuals from multinational companies in shaping the process of globalisation.
 

Law, corporate governance, and development

A second strand of research currently being undertaken by the Institute investigates the role of macro-level factors in shaping globalisation. Members of the Institute for International Management have been involved in various ESRC-funded projects investigating how governments and international organisations such as the World Bank, IMF and the OECD through their reform programmes shape the process of convergence of corporate governance practices around the world. More broadly, current research in this area investigates the dynamics of the spread of Western-style legal types of governance (or the “Rule of Law”) in other parts of the world and how such institutional transition affects previously relationship-based systems.
 
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The internationalisation of firms from emerging economies

A third area of study of the Institute for International Management is the rapidly growing outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) from emerging economies. Members of the institute seek to understand the institutional determinants and consequences of OFDI from emerging markets. Key questions that arise from this relatively new, but increasingly important phenomenon concern its motivations and determinants as well as its consequences. Thus, is the internationalisation of firms from emerging markets a type of institutional escape from sub-optimal institutional contexts? Or do emerging market firms expand abroad to leverage in the host countries advantages they gained from their home environment?
 
Concerning the consequences of the phenomenon, members of the Institute investigate the effects that internationalisation of emerging market Multinational Corporations (MNCs) can have on the institutions in their home country, e.g. through reverse transfer of practices from host countries and in the host countries.
 

Comparative political economy of work

 
A fourth research area within the Institute focuses on the comparative and historical analysis of work and employment relations within Europe and North America. Members of the Institute investigate models of global best practice regarding work organisation and labour management – such as lean production and business process reengineering – focusing in particular on their uneven diffusion across national borders and their contested implementation within workplaces. 
 
At the national level, this research examines the role of both formal and cultural institutions, focusing on their evolution and change over time, and their variation across regions and countries. Key formal institutions include systems of employee representation and worker voice, inter-firm relations, corporate governance, finance systems and the state. In terms of cultural institutions, the focus is on how global best practices become embedded in national and sectoral institutional logics: goals and practices that are based in the material practice and symbolic discourse of leading organisations. At the local level, this research examines how workplace politics and culture shape the organisation of work, focusing on how managers and workers interpret competing demands and engage in conflict, negotiation and accommodation over the implementation of institutionally-prescribed best practice.