Bridging ‘home’ political and economic rationalities with ‘host’ demands and constraints: the case of regional Chinese state-owned multinational corporations

Xinxiang Li*, Le Bo, Dan Shen, Teerooven Soobaroyen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Regional state-owned multinational corporations (SOMNCs) are a major constituency of the ‘going out’ strategy of the Chinese state. Although SOMNCs are nominally infused with political rationalities, they also have explicit contractual economic targets. We therefore explore the underlying rationalities of regional SOMNCs and the roles of expatriate managers in relation to their international expansion strategies. We mobilize Foucault’s conception of ‘governmentality’ in providing a holistic understanding of the case of a regional SOMNC (and its subsidiary in Ghana), notably how its managers rationalize their decisions in terms of reconciling political vision with local contexts, tackling domestic competition via foreign market exploration, mobilizing local engagement, improving expatriate managers’ morale and reinterpreting an interdependent government–business relationship. Our study suggests that coexisting economic and political considerations between the regional government and SOMNCs are instrumentalized with a view to ‘governmentalize’ overseas operations via business strategies and localization management practices in the Ghanaian subsidiary. In such an interdependent relationship, political appeals and market imperatives are mutually beneficial and complementary, with expatriate managers skillfully deploying the SOMNC’s
government affiliation. Our theoretical contribution lies in adapting a governmentality-driven framework to forge an alliance between liberal forms of management and non-liberal forms of governing and control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1042-1061
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Volume34
Issue number2
Early online date15 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • regional SOMNCs
  • international expansion
  • overseas operations
  • governmentality
  • China

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