(English) Article published: “Global integration versus local adaptation: a case study of Austrian MNCs in Eastern Europe”


Stephan Berchtold, Richard Pircher, Christian Stadler


European J. of International Management 2010 – Vol. 4, No.5  pp. 524 – 549


Institutionalists argue that the successful transfer of knowledge depends on a firm’s ability to adapt to its local environments. Jensen and Szulanski (2004) take a different perspective, focusing on global integration. While both approaches have received considerable attention their relationship has been less discussed. Using an extended case study method exploring 15 Austrian MNCs, we propose that there are two models to explain the relationship. One model puts local adaptation and global integration at two ends of a continuum. According to this interpretation there is a trade-off between the two. A second model sees local adaptation and global integration in an orthogonal relationship. They do not exclude each other but can be achieved at the same time by emphasising different aspects of an organisational practice. The Austrian MNCs we explore have a tendency towards the second model. They combine strong personal relationships with standardisation of products and processes, using training as a link between them.