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The establishment, operation and subsequent closure of the Bougainville Copper Mine : a case study in international management

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thesis
posted on 2023-05-27, 15:07 authored by Tonks, GR
As the scope and importance of the global economy expands, the international business arena presents continuous challenges in the governance of multinational enterprises (MNEs). Chief among these challenges is the management of the turbulent milieu in which world commerce is conducted and, as a result, academic inquiry into the environmental dimensions of international management has increased. The focus of this academic attention however, has been primarily concerned with MNEs from developed countries (DCs) which establish operations in other industrialised economies. In relative terms, there has been insufficient research into DC based organisations involved in less developed countries (LDCs). This dearth of inquiry is particularly evident in the rapidly expanding island economies of the South-west Pacific. Accordingly, the aim of this thesis is to extend current understanding of international management in the volatile and diverse context of LDCs. To this end, the management of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), an Australian mining company which operated in Papua New Guinea's North Solomons Province, was investigated. Using a single case study approach, inductive and deductive processes were applied in order to comprehend the reality of BCL's complex relationship with its host country and host society. Extant literature formed the conceptual framework of the study, from which the central and subordinate research questions were framed. Primary data were gathered from interviews with past executives of BCL, with secondary material assembled from company documents, published histories, news articles, PNG and Australian government reports and prior studies of Bougainville. A broad verification process was instituted to ensure the rigour of the data and the interpretive process which followed. The research findings support claims in the literature that corporate performance is dependent upon the close alignment of elements within the internal and external environments of MNEs. However, it was determined that alignment becomes increasingly difficult as the business climate in the host setting deviates from that in the home country, and MNE activities cannot be sustained under extremely divergent home-host conditions despite management's efforts to control external and organisation-specific variables. It was further established that MNE management should focus environmental congruency on the host · society, rather than on the host country as suggested in the literature. Evidence from the research reveals that the immediate population is the most influential contextual factor for MNEs, particularly in LDCs of the South-west Pacific which are typified by ethnic identity and local attachments which take precedence over the abstract notion of nationhood. The outcomes of this thesis present a range of implications concerning the management of MNEs in LDCs in terms of policy development, management practice and theory development, as well as suggesting possibilities for further research in the subject field.

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Copyright 2001 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2001. Includes bibliographical references

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