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Multinational corporations, sub-national governance and human resources

Directors: Patrick Gunnigle, Jonathan Lavelle, Sinead Monaghan

This research project, supported in Ireland by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, has two main aims. First, we are seeking to identify the key governance actors involved in the attraction and retention of foreign direct investment on a regional basis, how they engage with multinational companies (MNCs), and their impact on MNCs’ local embeddedness. Second, we wish to investigate how these relationships shape both the supply and demand for human resources by MNC subsidiaries? In other words, how are MNCs’ local HR strategies – and investment decisions - shaped by the competencies available in the local labour market, and the extent and nature of coordination between MNC units and other regional actors (e.g. regional developmental bodies, training institutions, education providers, etc)?

Aims

  • To understand the relationship between sub-national governance actors and MNCs operating in their area, and how this varies across regions with different governance arrangements
  • To investigate the effects of this relationship on the regional business system, and the role of human resources within this.

Objectives

  • To improve knowledge of the relationships between sub-national economic governance actors (including local and regional governmental actors, regional offices of central government, local and regional development agencies, training institutions, research bodies, employers' organisations, trade unions, etc.) and the multinational corporations operating in their area.
  • Through comparative case-study research in eight regions across four countries (the UK, Canada, Ireland and Spain), to develop an understanding of the extent and nature of differences in these relationships across sub-national regions with different economic and political governance arrangements, and with different positions in global value chains.
  • To develop an integrated analysis of how these relationships are shaped by, and in turn shape, the characteristics of sub-national business systems, particularly with regard to the development of human resources and skills, through for example, decisions on production and work organisation, the role of multinational corporations within local skills systems and the local/regional negotiability of national employment regimes.
  • To gain insights into the conditions under which sub-national actors can develop the institutional capacity to deal effectively with multinationals, thus embedding multinationals on the basis of high skill/value-added operations and improving the quality of employment as well as regional economic performance.
  • Through the integration of insights from international business, public policy, employment relations, and other fields, and through the international collaboration involved in the empirical research, to further develop a framework for internationally comparative research of this kind. This will permit replication of the research in sub-national regions and countries with a wide variety of governance arrangements and positions in global value chains.

This Irish study is part of a much larger international comparative project involving a number of collaborating universities as follows:

  • Canada: University of Montreal & Laval University.
  • Germany: Dusseldorf University
  • Spain: IESE, University of Navarre & University of Oviedo.
  • US: Syracuse University
  • UK: De Montfort University (lead partner).

Indicative Publications
Almond, P., Gonzalez Menendez, M., Gunnigle, P., Lavelle, J., Luque Balbona, D., Monaghan, S. & Murray, G. (2014) “Multinationals and regional economies: embedding the regime shoppers?” Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, 20 (2), 237-253.

Monaghan, S., Gunnigle, P. & Lavelle, J. (2014) “Courting the Multinational: Subnational institutional capacity and foreign market insidership”, Journal of International Business Studies, 45 (2), 131–150.

Gunnigle, P., Lavelle, J., & Monaghan, S. (2013) “Weathering the storm? Multinational companies and human resource management through the global financial crisis”, International Journal of Manpower, 34 (3), 214-231.

Monaghan, S. (2012) “Attraction and retention of foreign direct investment; the role of subnational institutions in a small, highly globalised economy”, Irish Journal of Management, 31 (2), 45-61.