Sub-theme 11: (SWG) Multinationals and Entrepreneurship

Susanne Blazejewski
Alanus University of Arts and Social Science, Germany
Eric Davoine
University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Jacob Hörisch
Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences, Germany

Call for Papers

Recent years have seen a growing recognition that multinational corporations (MNCs) are resourceful actors that play a crucial role as entrepreneurs or as facilitators of entrepreneurship and innovation. Driven by their extensive resources, international networks and exposure to multiple institutional contexts MNCs are key players in entrepreneurship and innovation processes. However, while these multiple entrepreneurial roles are widely recognised, relevant theories and debates have often remained unconnected.

A key aim of our sub-theme is to explore the theoretical intersections around the complex of MNCs, entrepreneurship and innovation. Theoretical perspectives leveraged may include more traditional international business and entrepreneurship perspectives (e.g. Shane & Venkataraman, 2000; Birkinshaw et al., 2005; Khanna & Palepu, 2010; Ellis, 2011; Jones, 2011) as well as the diverse entrepreneurship approaches in organisation studies (e.g. Phillips et al., 2009; Tracey & Phillips, 2011; Mair & Martí, 2009; Crouch, 2005; Greenwood & Suddaby, 2006; Jennings et al., 2013). Additionally, we call for an inclusion of more recent institutional, social and sustainable entre-/intrapreneurship perspectives that give in-depth consideration to our understanding of MNCs as social and societally construed political organisations (Bosman et al., 2014; Hadjikhani & Pahlberg, 2014; Pinske & Kolk, 2009; Richter, 2013; Salciuviene et al., 2009; Seyfang et al., 2014; Sullivan, 2010; Webb et al., 2010).

This sub-theme explores the manifold roles of MNCs in innovation and entrepreneurship in the corporate, institutional and social domain. Exploring this multidimensionality calls for a combination of different theories, research perspectives (e.g. critical and mainstream) and methods that investigate the antecedents, kinds, consequences as well as the links between these different forms of entrepreneurship. We seek to advance the academic debates at the intersection of MNCs, entrepreneurship and innovation. We invite contributions that empirically and/or theoretically address one of the following focus areas:

  • MNCs, corporate entrepreneurship and innovation: How are firm internationalisation, exposure to institutional diversity, corporate entrepreneurship and innovation connected? – Topics of interest include: Firm internationalisation as enabling and constraining corporate entrepreneurship and innovation; internationalisation and institutional diversity as a prerequisite for the innovation of business models, products and processes; MNCs as institutional contexts and transnational communities that drive, facilitate or constrain of global and local corporate entrepreneurship.
  • MNCs and institutional entrepreneurship: When and how do MNCs act as institutional entrepreneurs? – Topics of interest include: MNCs as powerful change agents of local, national and transnational institutional contexts; the role of institutional embeddedness, diversity (e.g. kind of market economies) and contradiction for the ability and motivation of MNCs to transform or protect institutions; MNCs as drivers, facilitators or obstacles of institutional change and development in emerging markets; the role of MNC in mayor institutional change projects such as TTIP.
  • MNCs and sustainable entrepreneurship: When and how does multinationality enable (or prevent) the sustainable evolution of corporations, corporate sectors and national standards?– Topics of interest include: Interaction of MNCs with local and national proponents of social and sustainable development; the role of MNCs in shaping discourses on sustainability issues (e.g. the energy transition Europe); MNCs as social entrepreneurs; new actor constellations and interaction patterns between MNCs and other sustainable/social entre-/intrapreneurs; MNCs as drivers, facilitators or obstacles of sustainable and social entre-/intrapreneurship.

Submissions to the sub-theme can be considered for a Special Issue that is connected to the sub-theme and will be published in the International Journal of Business Environment. Please see the Call for Papers at:




  • Birkinshaw, J., Hood N., & Young S. (2005): "Subsidiary entrepreneurship, internal and external competitive forces, and subsidiary performance." International Business Review, 14 (2), 247–248.
  • Bosman, R., Loorbach, D., Frantzeskaki, N., & Pistorius, T. (2014): "Discursive regime dynamics in the Dutch energy transition." Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 13, 45–59.
  • Crouch, C. (2005): Capitalist Diversity and Change. Recombinant Governance and Institutional Entrepreneurs. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ellis, P.D. (2011): "Social ties and international entrepreneurship: Opportunities and constraints affecting firm internationalization." Journal of International Business Studies, 42 (1), 99–127.
  • Greenwood, R., & Suddaby, R. (2006): "Institutional Entrepreneurship in Mature Fields: The Big Five Accounting Firms." The Academy of Management Journal, 49 (1), 27–48.
  • Hadjikhani, A., & Pahlberg, C. (2014): "Multinational firms and political actors: the issue of corruption and transparency. " International Journal of Business Environment, 6 (3), 284–299.
  • Jennings, P.D., Greenwood, R., Lounsbury, M.D., & Suddaby, R. (2013): " Institutions, entrepreneurs, and communities: A special issue on entrepreneurship." Journal of Business Venturing, 28 (1), 1–9.
  • Jones, M.V., Coviello, N., & Tang, Y.K. (2011): "International Entrepreneurship research (1989–2009): A domain ontology and thematic analysis." Journal of Business Venturing, 26 (6), 632–659.
  • Khanna, T., & Palepu, K.G. (2010): Winning in Emerging Markets: A Road Map for Strategy and Execution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.
  • Mair, J., & Martí, I. (2009): "Entrepreneurship in and around institutional voids: A case study from Bangladesh." Journal of Business Venturing, 24 (5), 419–435.
  • Phillips, N., Tracey, P., & Karra, N. (2009): "Rethinking institutional distance: strengthening the tie between new institutional theory and international management." Strategic Organization, 7 (3), 339–348.
  • Pinkse, J., & Kolk, A. (2010): "Challenges and trade-offs in corporate innovation for climate change." Business Strategy and the Environment, 19 (4), 261-272.
  • Pinske, J., & Kolk, A. (2009): International Business and Global Climate Change. London: Routledge.
  • Richter, M. (2013): "Business model innovation for sustainable energy: German utilities and renewable energy." Energy Policy, 62, 1226–1237.
  • Salciuviene, L., Chidlow, A., Ghauri, P.N., & Nguyen, T.B. (2009): "Multinational enterprises and their linkage effects on local socio-economic environments in emerging markets." International Journal of Business Environment, 2 (4), 468–484.
  • Seyfang, G., Hielscher, S., Hargreaves, T., Martiskainen, M., & Smith, A. (2014): "A grassroots sustainable energy niche? Reflections on community energy in the UK." Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 13, 21–44.
  • Shane, S., Venkataraman, S., (2000): "The Promise of Entrepreneurship as a Field of Research." Academy of Management Review, 25 (1), 217–226.
  • Sullivan, R. (2010): "An assessment of the climate change policies and performance of large European companies." Climate Policy, 10 (1), 38–50.
  • Tracey, P., & Phillips, N. (2011): "Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets Strategies for New Venture Creation in Uncertain Institutional Contexts." Management International Review, 51 (23), 23–39.
  • Webb, J. W., Kistruck, G. M., Ireland, R. D., & Ketchen, J.D.J. (2010): "The Entrepreneurship Process in Base of the Pyramid Markets: The Case of Multinational Enterprise/Nongovernment Organization Alliances." Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 34 (3), 555–581.


Susanne Blazejewski is Professor for Sustainable Organization and Work Design at Alanus University, Alfter, Germany. Her research focuses on issues of politics and conflict in multinational organizations, the transfer of organizational practices across institutional and cultural contexts, organizational change, and qualitative methods in international business research. Her publications include articles in the 'Journal of World Business', Competition and Change', books on organizational change in CEE, organizational cultures in multinationals, and institutional change in Japan as well as numerous book chapters.
Eric Davoine is Professor of HRM and Organization at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He is a board member (Vice-President from 2007 to 2014) of the association of French speaking HRM researchers (AGRH) and member of the editorial boards of 'International Journal of Organizational Analysis', 'Journal of Organizational Effectiveness', 'Career development International', 'Revue GRH', 'Management International', and '@grh'.
Jacob Hörisch is Junior Professor for Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Alanus University, Alfter, Germany. Previously, he worked as a post-doc and research assistant at the Centre for Sustainability Management, Leuphana University Lüneburg, and as a visiting lecturer at the Universities of Heidelberg and Mannheim. In 2013, he spent a research stay at Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, USA. His main research interests are in the fields of sustainability management, sustainable entrepreneurship and stakeholder theory. He has published his research in numerous internationally recognized journals, including 'Organization & Environment', 'Business Strategy and the Environment', 'Voluntas' and the 'Journal of Cleaner Production'.