Micro-processes of translation in the transfer of practices from MNE headquarters to foreign subsidiaries: The role of subsidiary translators

Gabriela Gutierrez-Huerter O*, Jeremy Moon, Stefan Gold, Wendy Chapple

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
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Recent research has increasingly emphasized the micro-foundations of knowledge transformation in multi-national enterprises (MNEs). Although the literature has provided ample evidence of the enablers of and barriers to the translation of practices, less is known about the activities and efforts of translators that lead to specific types of translation in the context of the transfer of practices initiated at a MNE’s headquarters (HQ) to foreign subsidiaries. We apply a Scandinavian institutionalist approach to examine the translation of corporate social responsibility reporting, an HQ-initiated practice that is transferred to five foreign subsidiaries of a UK-based MNE. Our paper builds from a preliminary framework based on extant research to develop an extended framework of the micro-processes of translation. By theorizing the sequence of the micro-processes undertaken by translators, identifying the conditions under which they occur, and connecting them to the three types of translation, we provide a deep understanding of the micro-foundations of translation when transferring practices from HQ to subsidiaries. Our paper shows that translation is an evolving phenomenon and illuminates the importance of attending to the social, spatial, and temporal situatedness of translators. It also brings insights into the individual experience of institutional distance and its effects on translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-413
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number3
Early online date11 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • case-theoric approaches
  • corporate social responsibility reporting
  • institutional theory
  • micro-foundations
  • multinational enterprises (MNEs)
  • subsidiary managers
  • transfer of practices
  • translation


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