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The Globalising Behaviour of UK Firms in a Comparative Context

Aims & objectives

Funded by the Cambridge-MIT Institute this study of British firms' responses to globalisation compared with those of a similar set of firms in the United States and Germany. We extended the remit of the project to include an equivalent set of Japanese firms, through a research collaboration with Doshisha University, Kyoto. The objective of the research was to contribute to a better understanding of how to improve British performance, given the strong pressures on firms operating in a global environment to break with old patterns of governance, organisation and scope, and location. Having collected data in 2003-2004 through nearly 150 interviews with executives in the textile and clothing, pharmaceutical, and book publishing industries, the Cambridge team spent 2005 analysing the transcripts and writing up the findings, both for academic publication and as final reports to our funding body and our interviewee firms. In addition, Jocelyn Probert spent six weeks with our collaborators at Doshisha University in October-November 2005, visiting textile and clothing firms and pharmaceutical companies in Japan. The data gathered from the various visits to Japan in 2003-2005 by all members of the Cambridge team have already contributed to a research paper (on the Japanese publishing industry) presented at the workshop we organised in April 2005 and a book chapter (on the pharmaceutical industry) that appeared in 2006. Christel Lane and Jocelyn Probert have done further field work in the clothing industry, interviewing firms in Turkey in 2006 and in Romania in 2007.

Results & dissemination

Drawing together the themes of the project, we organised a workshop entitled 'Organisational Configurations and Locational Choices of Firms: Responses to Globalisation in Different Industry and Institutional Environments' in Cambridge on 14-15 April 2005, to which we invited speakers from the US, Germany, Japan and the UK. At the workshop, Christel Lane and Jocelyn Probert presented a paper comparing the organisational forms and locational choices made by US pharmaceutical firms, which subsequently became the basis of two articles submitted to Industry and Innovation and Organization Studies; and Simon Learmount presented an analysis of the global value chain in the UK, US and German publishing industries, co-authored with Michael Horn. The final project reports were written by Christel Lane (clothing), Simon Learmount (publishing) and Jocelyn Probert (pharmaceuticals) and were disseminated to all our interviewees as well as to the Cambridge-MIT Institute. Following the completion of the project, Christel Lane and Jocelyn Probert published National Capitalisms, Global Production Networks: Fashioning the Value Chain in the UK, US and Germany with Oxford University Press in March 2009.

Books

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2009) National Capitalisms, Global Production Networks. Fashioning the value chain in the UK, USA, and Germany (Oxford: OUP).

Working papers

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2005) 'Domestic capabilities and global production networks in the clothing industry: a comparison of German and UK firms' strategies', Centre for Business Research Working Paper No.318.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2005) 'Locating Knowledge: In-house Research Laboratories and External Networks in US, British and German Pharmaceutical Companies', ITEC Research Paper Series No. 05-13, Doshisha University, Kyoto.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2004) 'Between the global and the local: a comparison of the German and UK clothing industry', Centre for Business Research Working Paper No. 283.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2004) 'Globalisation and labour market segmentation: global production and networkd and employment patterns within German and UK clothing firms', ITEC Research Paper Series, Doshisha University, Kyoto, September 2004.

Lane, C. and Probert, J.  (2003) 'Globalisation and its impact on competitiveness: the case of the British and German pharmaceutical industry', Centre for Business Research Working Paper No. 262.

Lane, C. (2003) 'Changes in corporate governance of German corporations: convergence to the Anglo-American model?', Centre for Business Research Working Paper No. 259.

Learmount, S. and Roberts, J. (2002) 'Meanings of ownership of the firm', Centre for Business Research Working Paper No. 238.

Journal articles

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (forthcoming) 'Locating Knowledge: In-House Research Laboratories and External Networks in US, British and German Pharmaceutical Companies' (under revision for Organization Studies).

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2007) 'The External Sourcing of Technological Knowledge by US Pharmaceutical Companies: strategic goals and inter-organisational relationships 2007, Industry and Innovation, 14 (1):5-25.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2006) "Domestic capabilities and global production networks in the clothing industry: a comparison of German and UK firms' strategies", Socio-Economic Review, Vol. 4 (1): 69-91.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2004) 'Between the global and the local: a comparison of the German and UK clothing industry', Competition and Change, 8(3): 243-266.

Lane, C. (2003) 'Changes in corporate governance of German corporations: convergence to the Anglo American model?', Competition and Change, 7(2-3): 79-100.

Book chapters

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2006) 'Globalization and Labour Market Segmentation: The Impact of Global Production Networks on Employment Patterns of German and UK Clothing Firms'. In A. Ferner, J. Quintanilla and C. Sánchez-Runde (Eds.) Multinationals, Institutions and the Construction of Transnational Practices: Convergence and Diversity in the Global Economy, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Probert, J. (2006) "Global Value Chains in the Pharmaceutical Industry". In D.H. Whittaker, R. Cole and P. Byosiere (Eds.), Perspectives on Technology Management in Japan, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lane, C. (2005) 'Institutional transformation and system change: changes in the corporate governance of German corporations', in Morgan, G., Whitley, R. and Moen, E. (eds) Changing capitalisms? Complementaries, contradictions and capability development in an international context, Oxford, OUP, pp78-109.

Lane, C (2004) 'Die Organisation professionaler Arbeit in Deutschland - Ein Vergleich mit England', in Kaltetzki, T. and Tacke, V. (eds) Organisation und Profession, Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Other publications

Lane, C. (2005) 'Firms' Responses to Globalisation: Organisation of the Value Chain in the Clothing Industries of the UK, US and Germany', CBR final project report to The Cambridge-MIT Institute.

Learmount, S. (2005) 'Firms' Responses to Globalisation: Organisation of the Value Chain in the Publishing Industries of the UK, US and Germany', CBR final project report to The Cambridge-MIT Institute.

Workshops organised

Lane, C, Learmount, S. and Probert J. organised a workshop entitled "Organisational Configurations and Locational Choices of Firms: Responses to Globalisation in Different Industry and Institutional Environments", University of Cambridge, 14-15 April 2005.

Conference papers

Lane, C. (2006) 'National Capitalisms, Global Production Networks: An analysis of their interaction in two global industries'. Presidential address, 18th annual SASE conference, Trier, 30 June - 2 July.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2006) 'The Global Production Networks of US and UK Clothing Firms in their Institutional Contexts: Is there an Anglo-American Variety of Capitalism?' 18th annual SASE conference, Budapest, 30 June - 2 July.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2006) 'Locating knowledge: in-house research laboratories and external networks in US, British and German pharmaceutical companies'. 22nd EGOS Colloquium, Bergen, 6 - 8 July.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2005) 'Rediscovering the Discovery Function in the Pharmaceutical Industry: organisational forms and locational decisions among US firms'. Workshop on 'Organisational Configurations and Locational Choices of Firms: Responses to Globalisation in Different Industry and Institutional Environments', University of Cambridge, 14-15 April.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2005) 'The External Sourcing of Technological Knowledge by US Pharmaceutical Companies: strategic goals and inter-organisational relationships'. 17th annual SASE conference, Budapest, 30 June - 2 July.

Learmount, S. and Horn, M. (2005) 'In Search of the Ideal Value Chain: The Organizational Strategies and Performance of UK and German Publishing Firms'. Workshop on 'Organisational Configurations and Locational Choices of Firms: Responses to Globalisation in Different Industry and Institutional Environments', University of Cambridge, 14 - 15 April.

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2005) Reconfiguring the Discovery Function in the Pharmaceutical Industry: organisational forms and locational decisions among US firms. Workshop on 'Organisational Configurations and Locational Choice of Firms: Responses to Globalisation in Different Industry and Institutional Environments', University of Cambridge, 14-15 April 2005.

Media coverage

Lane, C. and Probert, J. (2005) May 2005, Synergy - the bi-annnual magazine of the Cambridge-MIT Institute, issue 4. The article, 'Responding to Globalisation', reports on the Globalising Behaviour of UK Firms project.

Project leaders

Christel Lane
Suzanne Berger (MIT)
Simon Learmount

Research fellow

Jocelyn Probert

Project dates

2002-2007

Funding

The Cambridge-MIT Institute