Internationalisation through a network of relationships
: local perspectives from Dutch MNE subsidiaries in Indonesia

  • Christiaan Röell

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This research investigates how Dutch multinational business enterprises (MBEs) have built a market position in Indonesia. Drawing on different bodies of literature, including internationalisation, global integration-national responsiveness, and subsidiary embeddedness, this thesis enhances our understanding of how MBE subsidiaries respond to host-country pressures in an emerging market, through developing a network of cooperative relationships with political, social and business actors. Guided by the overarching research question - How do established Dutch MBE subsidiaries grow and develop in Indonesia? - this thesis has not only examined how the different types of actors interact, but also the activities that are performed, and which critical resources are utilised in navigating regulatory complexities, cultural specificities and subnational heterogeneity. The case studies, involving interviews with subsidiary managers, combined with field observations and archival research demonstrate how four long-established Dutch consumer goods MBEs developed a supportive set of relations in a postcolonial setting. In so doing, this research offers three main contributions. Firstly, the research developed an enhanced understanding of the actors’ lived experience in MBE subsidiaries in an emerging market. Secondly, the study contributes to several theoretical perspectives, including the literature on how MBEs adapt their strategies to compete in emerging markets, which involves building close ties with business and socio-political actors, and how firms navigate the liability of foreignness in a market where firms from their former colonial ruler are regarded with scepticism. Thirdly, extant literature is largely situated at a macro organisational level, although relationships in emerging markets are typically developed at the interpersonal level. Consequently, identifying and explicating key practices and strategies at the level of the people involved, rather than at the organisational level, has provided fresh and deep insights into the managerial activities required to respond to host-country pressures in the immediate temporal and spatial context of post-colonial Indonesia.

    Key words: Multinational business enterprise (MBE), emerging market, internationalisation, global integration-national responsiveness, subsidiary embeddedness, liability of foreignness
    Date of Award13 Jan 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    Sponsors Roehampton VC Scholarship
    SupervisorElaine Harris (Director of Studies), Ellis L. C. Osabutey (Co-Supervisor) & Alireza Nazarian (Co-Supervisor)


    • Emerging market
    • business networks
    • Indonesia
    • institutional environment
    • multi-national enterprise
    • internationalisation
    • inter-organisational relationships

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