Edith Penrose and the Future of the Multinational Enterprise: New Research Directions
Pitelis, Christos N.
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This paper demonstrates the continued relevance of Penrose's Theory of the Growth of the Firm (1959) (TGF) to explain MNE expansion patterns. Explaining MNE growth requires explicit attention to three elements not addressed fully by Penrose: 1) technology-based firm-specific advantages, 2) dynamic capabilities, and 3) melding location-bound and internationally transferable knowledge, especially through astute human resources management. TGF includes foundational insights on the dynamic capabilities approach in strategy and contributes to assessing normative models in international strategy. Penrose did not appreciate fully the unique knowledge recombination challenges prevailing in international business, especially in the context of the large MNE. This uniqueness of knowledge recombination is the raison d'etre of international business as a separate field of inquiry.