Organizational tension in international R&D management: The case of Japanese firms

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167 Citations (Scopus)


Internationalization of R&D has unleashed a considerable degree of tension within multinational corporations. This paper explores the nature of such a tension in the Japanese multinational firms. At first glance, the most obvious tension appeared to be on the autonomy and control issue between the headquarters and overseas laboratories. However, taking perception gaps as the primary manifestation of organizational tension within a firm, we learned that the tension appears to be more salient in information-sharing issues than in autonomy-control issues, and that the local side seems more dissatisfied with the current level of information sharing and granted autonomy than the parent side. Inter-industry and inter-laboratory differences regarding such findings were also examined. Qualitative data revealed that the nature of organizational tension actually evolves along the differing stages (i.e. dis-integration and re-integration) of R&D internationalization. Theoretical implications for network and information-processing perspectives were also discussed in the context of the dynamics of organizational tension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-757
Number of pages23
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2001 May


  • Japanese MNCs
  • Organizational tension
  • Perception gap
  • R&D internationalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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