Navigating MNE control and coordination: A critical review and directions for future research

Ratchel Zeng*, Birgitte Grøgaard, Ingmar Björkman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Control and coordination efforts are at the heart of MNE functioning. Yet, our review reveals that the literature on MNE control and coordination lacks conceptual clarity, which may hamper the development of the field. In this critical review, we synthesize the literature over the past decade using a conceptual framework rooted in new internalization theory. Research remains fairly coarse regarding how various configurations and interactions of control and coordination mechanisms affect intended outcomes. We note a paucity of multilevel studies, direct investigations of microfoundations, and comparison studies between intra- and inter-MNE relationships. Insufficient attention has been paid to adaptation issues and the impact of external dynamics on the need for, and operationalization of, control and coordination mechanisms. These gaps are concerning, since external trends are changing the organizational landscape and MNE boundaries are becoming increasingly fuzzy. Going forward, a more nuanced conceptualization of outcomes is needed, one that specifies proximal outcomes which mediate the achievement of distant goals. We use our augmented conceptual framework to identify other key areas for future research. We also call for more research on how disruptive forces affect both the use and outcomes of organizational mechanisms aimed at achieving control and coordination.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1599-1622
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 08.03.2023
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • 512 Business and Management
  • MNE
  • control
  • coordination
  • international business research agenda
  • mechanisms
  • outcomes


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