MNE microfoundations and routines for building a legitimate and sustainable position in emerging markets

Ulf Elg, Pervez N Ghauri, John Child, Simon Collinson

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17 Citations (Scopus)
358 Downloads (Pure)


A number of studies have analysed how multinational enterprises (MNEs) develop appropriate strategies for managing the institutionally different contexts of various markets. However, we still know rather little about how MNEs manage different institutional pressures when they operate in emerging markets. These markets have a higher level of uncertainty as their values and structures undergo change. This paper investigates the microfoundations and routines that can be part of developing a firm's capability to achieve a legitimate and environmentally sustainable position in emerging markets. We focus upon the microfoundations and routines for managing regulative, normative, and cultural–cognitive pressures. The paper utilizes an extensive qualitative case study approach. It reports a study at corporate and subsidiary levels of 3 Swedish MNEs in the in 4 markets: Brazil, Russia, India and China. The study identifies a set of routines for managing each of the 3 institutional forces and supporting microfoundations at individual, interactive, and structural levels. We are thus able to offer new insights on how the institutional context interacts with MNE strategies and identify more generic routines and microfoundations behind the capability for developing a sustainable market position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1320-1337
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number9
Early online date31 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • microfoundations
  • Institutional theory
  • sustainability
  • emerging markets


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