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MGMT389

CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE


SUBMITTED BY: RUBAB ADMANI 3557959 EMAD ASLAM 3546032 KHURRAM SHAHID 3749745 AIMAN KHAN SUBMITTED TO: Ms. RITU SEHGAL

11/28/2011

CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This report aims to analyze the impact of a single macro- environment factor, culture, on the performance of an international business. The report begins with an explanation of culture and the dimensions it can be divided into. These dimensions help explain the cultural differences between various nations. The report then tries to evaluate the impact of culture on various international business practices. The impact of culture on joint ventures, resource commitment, capital structure and new product development has been considered: Joint ventures form a major part of any international business and this report evaluates the performance of joint ventures in the event of major cultural differences between partners. We also present an alternate set of study where greater cultural distance may be considered as an advantage for a multinational corporation. Resource commitment is also a major aspect on an international business. Through resource commitment to a foreign country, the company could benefit from lower labor costs, abundance of raw materials and/or access to new technology or useful knowledge of the market. The level of resource commitment is influenced significantly by the cultural diversity between the home and host country. If the managers perceived difference between the work ethics, employee relations, management styles, etc of the two countries is high, the less likely it is a for a significant resource commitment to be made. Culture plays an important role in determining the capital structure of a firm. Conservative societies and countries that place great emphasis on conformity, security, preserving public image, harmonious working relationships and social harmony tend to use less debt financing. The same is the case for societies with high mastery values which focus on control and individual success. The five dimensions of culture play a major role in influencing new product development. The relationship between the two is becoming increasingly important for companies to attain success in the age of globalization.

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

The limitations of the current research are then presented in the report. The current study in this area relies mainly on Hofstedes cultural dimension, so the disadvantages of that are considered. We end this report by considering various implications for future research. The fact that culture is an elusive and complex concept needs to be understood by the future researchers and the new research needs to employ new cultural dimensions model.

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION THEORETICAL DEVELOPMENT:


HOFTSTEDEs CULTURAL DIMENSIONS
Power Distance Uncertainty Avoidance Individualism vs. Collectivism Masculinity vs. Femininity Long- Term vs. Short- Term Orientation

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6 7 7 7 8

IMPACT OF CULTURE ON INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE


Joint Ventures New Product Development Resource Commitment The importance of resource commitment How culture affects resource commitment Capital Structure

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8 10 11 11 12 12

LIMITATIONS

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IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH AND CONCLUSION REFERENCE LIST:

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

INTRODUCTION
Global business prospects cannot be ignored in todays era. The geographical reach of the firms has now expanded tremendously and the way of thinking of executives worldwide has broadened considerably. This has led to increased research on international business and the factors affecting it. Macro-economics is the study of the behavior of an economy as whole. This is unlike microeconomics, which refers to the activities of people (basically their buying behavior). A macroeconomic environment consists of all the factors the make up the economys environment. It affects a firms international business performance for sure. Especially when its an international firm, macro-economic factors like the economic state, the legalities, the presence of political stability or lack thereof, and the cultural environment affect the way a company is run, and therefore on its performance. These arent regionally bound; more so, they are bound by an economy as whole. It includes trends in GDP, spending, inflation, standard of living, employment, monetary and fiscal policy. Macro-economic environments dont depend on a firm for example, if there is a problem in the macro-economic environment, it cant be solved out by simply changing something in the firm, like a manager or a process. It has to be adapted to i.e. the firms strategy has to be wrapped around it. Macro-economists try forecasting the conditions that may prevail in an economy in the future in order to help consumers, firms and governments to make better decisions. The macro-economic environment which a company is in will, as stated above, influence its performance; the fact of the matter is, that how much it will influence is left on the fact that how much does the company rely on the health of the overall economy. For example, cyclical industries are more affected by a macro-economic environment than consumer staples. (Haekal 2011). Culture is going to be the main focus of the macro-economic environment as we explore how much it affects a firms international business performance. Culture, the word, is used invariably in everyday life, but it does not have a clear definition, of sorts. At a scholarly level, culture is used to describe a sharing of beliefs, attitudes and ideology in everyday lives. Economists now

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

are describing theoretical abstractions to help find a foothold in the study of economics (Throsby 2001). Nothing is left in the background. Thats why culture is now understood, in the modern world, to be very important as it affects businesses. Its a macro-economic factor that plays a very important role in deciding a firms fate. One has to adapt to culture, not ignore it.

THEORETICAL DEVELOPMENT:
Various definitions of culture exist. Triandis et al. (1986) referred to culture as "a fuzzy, difficult-to-define construct" . However, there is a consensus amongst several researchers that culture can be defined as beliefs and values held by members of a society and visible in their practices and behavior. This implies that values held by an individual are influenced by culture which, in turn, shape the attitude and subsequently the behavior (Adler, 1997). The effect of culture on business performance has been examined through a range of studies in different disciplines. It has been demonstrated though several research that there are significant differences between cultures of different nations and this consequently affects the various management practices such as strategic decision-making, leadership style and HRM (Newman & Nollen, 1996). These differences have an impact on the performance of a business.

HOFTSTEDEs CULTURAL DIMENSIONS


Hofstedes cultural dimensions can be used to explore the effects of national culture on business performance. The cultural dimensions are as follows: Power Distance

It explains the degree to which power distribution is unequal. Firms willing to expand into foreign countries need to understand that even though inequality exists in all societies, some societies have an even greater unequal distribution of power. In an organization, the power distance determines the degree of formal hierarchy, the participation of employees in the decision making process and the extent to which authority is centralized. In large power distance societies such as East Asia and Latin

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

Europe, subordinates simply expect to be told what they are supposed to do and the boss assumes the role of an autocrat. According to a research conducted by Denison and Mishra (1995), organizations in low power distance societies such as the U.S. experienced faster growth, greater efficiency and improved financial performance if they involved employees in the decision making process. Similarly, employees in high power distance societies distrusted the concept of participative management as it wasnt a part of their national culture. Uncertainty Avoidance

It is the extent to which members of a society can tolerate ambiguity. Uncertainty avoidance is exhibited in organizations through the use of detailed policies and procedures, and structured systems. A research conducted by Newman and Nollen (1996) concluded that firms in high uncertainty avoidance cultures demonstrated better financial performance when their employees were presented with clear instructions, procedures and policies. Individualism vs. Collectivism

Collectivism is the extent to which members of a society are incorporated into groups. Collectivist societies stress the importance of building and fostering relationships. Individualism can be observed at the opposite end of the spectrum where each individual is responsible for himself and is expected to look after only his immediate family. Emphasis is placed on getting the task done rather than building relationships. Countries such as the U.S., Britain, Canada, etc have individualistic cultures where individual achievements determine the social ranking and status. Research in this area have proved that greater entrepreneurial activity exists in individualist societies. In collectivist cultures, firms exhibit better performance when emphasis was placed on group work and not individual employee achievements (Newman & Nollen, 1996). Masculinity vs. Femininity

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

It indicates the extent to which characteristics such as assertiveness, accomplishments, wealth acquisition, compassion for others and quality of life are valued in a culture. Masculine cultures (for e.g. Japan, the U.S. and Germany) place an emphasis on

achievements and ambitions and have very distinctive gender roles. In the workplace, quality of relationships and working life are the focus of feminine management practices. A study conducted by Lawler(1990) shows that firms in masculine cultures such as the U.S. exhibit better performance when rewards offered to employees are performancebased. Long- Term vs. Short- Term Orientation

This dimension is also known as Confucian Dynamism. The original IBM research conducted by Hofstede did not include this dimension and it was added later to better describe the Asian countries. Patience, determination, respect for elders and obedience are few of the characteristics that describe a long-term oriented culture. Long-term orientation requires managers to provide employees with job security and to look at the big picture and not just look out for short term solutions.

IMPACT OF CULTURE ON INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE


1. Joint Ventures

It has been usually argued by scholars and researchers that agreement between culturally similar partners tends to be more profitable and successful than that between culturally distant partners for both mergers and joint ventures. Cartwright and Cooper (1998) described culture as a social glue which unifies individuals of an organization. They explain that many organization alliances fail to meet expectations because culture of partners are incompatible and the degree of cultural fit that exists between combining organizations is likely to be correlated to the success of the combination. Differences in partners value and practices create problems associated with commitment, communication and conflict resolution in an international joint venture. For example, a study by Cullen et al. (1995) showed that U.S. and Japanese partners perceived

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

satisfaction differently. Japanese partners placed an emphasis on relationships and long-term organizational performance for satisfaction, whereas, their U.S. partners needed immediate results. As reported by Fedor and Werther (1995), performance issues lead to costly failures of around 37-70%of international joint ventures. The Daimler-Chrysler merger is the infamous example to prove this point. In 1998, when the German manufacturer Daimler merged with its U.S. rival Chrysler, many analysts deemed this agreement as a win-win situation for both the corporations. The joint entity, Daimler-Chrysler had revenues totaling up to $153.3 billions and managed to achieve a 3rd ranking in terms of revenues and earnings. However, 2 years after the merger, losses of more than half a billion dollars were reported. The major reason behind this was cultural clash. The promised value failed to realize because of cultural misalignment and diverse management styles. Daimler believed in traditional management style with centralized decision-making and a hierarchical organization. On the other hand, Chrysler encouraged innovation, creativity and flexibility. It believed in employee empowerment and had a flatter organization structure. These differences led to the destruction of value (The impact of culture on M&A, n.d.). Several empirical studies have proven that international joint ventures can face significant problems when the cultural background of the 2 partners differs. According to these research, as the cultural distance increases, the firms involved in joint ventures tend to exhibit poorer performance (Shenkar & Zeira, 1992; Woodcock and Geringer, 1991). Barkema & Vermeulen (1997), further expanded on this theory by explaining that some differences create a more disrupting impact than others. According to their study, when the joint venture partners exhibit significant differences in uncertainty avoidance and long term orientation, the survival rate of the joint venture declines considerably. Moreover, the incidence of joint ventures also reduces as the cultural distance increases (negative correlation) with the firms opting to entering a county through Greenfield investment or a wholly owned subsidiary. As per their study, the differences in the other 3 dimensions i.e. masculinity vs. femininity, individualism vs. collectivism and power distance are much more easily resolved as these simply reflect the different attitudes in workforce management.

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

However, some researchers have also proven that as the cultural distance increases, the performance of a firm increases. A study conducted by Morosini et al. (1998) provides empirical support that positive correlation exists between the national cultural distance and the firm performance. According to Morosini et al. (1998), national cultures differ in several aspects such as innovation, decision making practices, creativity and entrepreneurship. Therefore, a multinational company operating in culturally distant countries is provided with an opportunity to access the diverse routines and utilize these to enhance to firms performance gradually. The study evaluated 52 companies across Europe and performance was measured as a percentage of sales. Morosini et al. conclude that cultural distance does not act as an impediment. Firms get a chance to learn from the diverse routines and practices embedded in the national culture, thereby helping to improve their performance. Pothukuchi et al. (2002) also reinforce this theory through their research. Their research had the same conclusion that cultural distance positively correlates with the business performance. The previous research on international business performance is rather inconclusive regarding the effects of culture. These discrepancies may have risen due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, the cultural dimensions have been overly-generalized which makes the national cultural distance an inefficient measure (Baack & Baack, 2002). In some cases, performance related factors may have been ineffectively linked to Hofstedes model. As suggested by several researchers, an alternate and more effective measure would be the use of distance in terms of diversity in actual business practices. 2. New Product Development The relationship between national culture and new product development is a major area for research and something to be put into managerial practice. Understanding the relationship between these two in this age of globalization is vital for a company to attain success. The five dimensions of culture, as mentioned above, are individualism, power distance, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and Confucian dynamism. When individualism is related to new product development, it is concluded that: High degree of individualism (low degree collectivism) promotes new product development during the initial stages through the kind of drive, nonconformity, and personal vision associated with product champions and key innovators. And

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

a low degree of individualism promotes new product development in the implementation stages by emphasizing on a cooperate purpose. Similarly, new product development is promoted when there is a low degree of power distance by hearing everyones ideas and opinions irrespective of their positions. High power distance might facilitate in new product development by keeping a centralized command to ensure everything is in order, and well coordinated. Low degree of masculinity leads to a positive impact on new product development through a warm, calm and supportive environment and a high degree impedes product development due to a direct, formal and strict environment. High degree of uncertainty avoidance facilitates implementation by taking minimal risk and tight planning and controls. On the other hand, low degree facilitates the initial stage by taking risk with minimal planning and control. Lastly Confucian Dynamic promotes new product development in both stages by emphasizing on action and future possibilities and has a negative impact on it by focusing on reservations of past and present realities (Nakata et al, 1996). 3. Resource Commitment The importance of resource commitment Commitment of resources abroad could be an important source of competitive advantage for a corporation. Furthermore, firms who increasingly commit resources abroad are more flexible in the allocation of resources and reduce the risk of running the business. Moreover, firms may also commit resources in order to achieve a global synergy i.e. to develop competitive advantage through the low cost of labor, the affluence of the market or through the abundance of natural resources in the host countries. Firms also decide to engage in Foreign Direct Investment in order to gain access to a new market of consumers to whom they could sell their products, or to access natural resources which are essential to the production process and may not be available in the home country or maybe available in scarce quantities. Investments in the host country could also be made to gain knowledge and/or new technology which would in turn benefit the companys global operations

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

How culture affects resource commitment Familiarity with a location and the cultural traits of its inhabitants determine the firms ability to manage cultural diversity. Familiarity with a location is defined as the perceived differences between the business practices of the home country and the host country which includes aspects such as management styles, relations between employees, the economic and the political systems and the ethics practiced at work. Several studies show that if the environment in the host country is perceived by the managers to be relatively unfamiliar then significant resource commitments such as Foreign Direct Investment are less likely. A wide cultural distance requires the firm to gather more information before committing resources to another country and thus leads to elevated costs (Root, 1987). 4. Capital Structure Culture also plays a great role in predicting and determining the capital structure. The following explain how it affects capital structure based upon types of influences within cultural dimensions (Chui et al., 2002):

Harmonious Relationship and Capital Structure. Conservative societies tend to be work in harmony with each other. The effect of social harmony on capital structure is that liquidation of a firm would impose costs on its workers, other input suppliers and customers and shows that the more a firm values these costs, the lower its debt ratio would be. Major concerns of firms in a conservative society emphasizing a harmonious atmosphere would be more concerned about liquidation to its stakeholders and are expected to have low debt ratios.

Preserving Public Image and Capital Structure. When the public image of an individual is lost, his efficiency is hurt in the process as well and he fails to meet his requirements or what is expected of him. Therefore managers and firms should be very particular in preserving their public image and ensuring that it is not lost in any way as this has an impact on financial decisions.

Security, Conformity, Tradition, and Capital Structure: Cultures which are concerned about security, conformity and tradition are the ones that suggest that that uncertainty

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

avoidance is the extent to which members of a culture prefer certainty and predictability and find ambiguity stressful. Countries high in uncertainty avoidance on the other hand tend to take less risk. Conservative countries would want to reduce all chances of bankruptcy and take less debt.

Mastery: emphasizing more on control and individual success. Countries that follow this tend to take less debt financing.

LIMITATIONS
The dominant limitation of all the studies is that they have used Hofstedes work as a sole measure for cultural differences. Hofstedes cultural dimensions have been criticized for several reasons. Firstly, cultural differences are assessed using a specific country as a unit of analysis. However, it is an eminent fact that cultural differences do not only exist between countries but within countries as well (Srikes et al. n.d.). Moreover, Hofstedes model views culture as static and does not account for the changes that occur over time (Kirkman et al., 2006). In addition, Hofstede conducted his research approximately 40 years ago and the results can be considered as outdated. The profound impact of extensive modernization (media and technology) has been disregarded by Hofstedes theory (Usunier & Lee, 2005).

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH AND CONCLUSION


Business world is witnessing escalating degrees of globalization which has led to a surge in research on culture and international business. However, various propositions for future research can be made based on the limitations of the current studies. Firstly, as previously mentioned, a rather simplistic view of culture has been embraced by previous researchers. Although, Hofstedes model has been really influential in launching the research in this field, the multifaceted and diverse concepts of culture need to be now looked into. Culture is a much broader concept than that identified by Hofstedes cultural dimensions and therefore, dynamic frameworks of culture need to be developed that can be applied in diverse contexts. Present study can also be enhanced by adding other measures of cultural differences. Secondly, the effects of culture need to be examined by including social, economic and political variables into the study. Cultural change is influenced by and is interconnected with socioeconomic-political variables and therefore, future researchers need to consider their impact. The complex relationship between these variables and culture needs to be precisely identified to correctly understand the various forces acting on international businesses. Finally, most research conducted on international business has some correlation but the causal factors havent been identified. Culture is a concept that is fuzzy and hard to define. Therefore, it needs to be analyzed with the help of all the tools available. Multi-method approach to research needs to be adopted so that the research on international business can experience high degrees of growth (Leung et al., 2005).

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

Haekal, R. 2011, Macro Environment Definition. Available: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/macro-environment.asp#axzz1elCEf1Ij. Last [Accessed 27th Nov 2011]

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CULTURE & INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE

Rubab Admani 3557959 Emad Aslam 3546032 Khurram Shahid 3749745 Aiman Khan 3778563

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