The work of Buckley et al. on how innovation takes place in the “global factory” is key to understanding how international executives are uniquely equipped with knowledge of local and global factors to exercise judgment in the face of uncertainty (Buckley, 2016; Buckley & Prashantham, 2016). Buckley calls for a division of entrepreneurial labor between multinationals and their local collaborators, so that a solid understanding of how centripetal and centrifugal factors can be innovatively combined begins to emerge.
Armed with an understanding of the institutional voids and associated market inefficiencies that characterize local markets, risk-taking international executives are ideally positioned to make local adjustments to the global brand. These calculated adjustments capitalize on the strengths of the multinational brand, but also on the executives’ knowledge of local nuances that reveals the necessary tweaks for a successful local adaptation.
The international executive plays a central role in creating a dialog among international settings, which should reveal new opportunities to capitalize on the brand’s strengths that become obvious solely when one understands the local voids that such strengths can fill. This type of capability, which Buckley and Prashantham (2016) refer to as “complementary entrepreneurship,” signifies the need to understand that global innovation often equates to smart local adaptations. Such adaptations take advantage of synergies that only those who are familiar with both sets of forces—centripetal and centrifugal—understand.
This kind of “glocalized” entrepreneurship meets the criteria of causal ambiguity and social complexity that define difficult to imitate assets leading to competitive advantage (Teece, 2007; Teece, Pisano, & Shuen, 1997). Prior research also suggests that CEO experience in an international assignment combines with organizational characteristics to create rare, socially complex resources that facilitate the appropriation of a greater proportion of performance in CEO pay (Carpenter, Sanders, & Gregersen, 2001). In support of the argument advanced here, the positive effects of international assignment experience were boosted by having a strong global strategic posture, thereby suggesting that the combination of difficult to imitate resources with the appropriate contextual factors further enhances their utility.