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- Foreign Investment and Host Country Economies
- Geography of Technological Innovation
- Multinational Corporations
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Tony Frost is an associate professor of international business, and the former MBA Program Director at the Ivey Business School. Frost received his Ph.D. from MIT's Sloan School of Management. His thesis "The Geographic Sources of Innovation in the Multinational Enterprise" received the inaugural Gunnar Hedlund Award for the best doctoral dissertation in international business. Before earning his Ph.D., Frost completed the first year of Sloan's MBA program and worked as an intern at Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Washington. His undergraduate degree (BComm) is from the University of British Columbia.
Frost's research interests revolve around strategy and competition in a global context. The main focus of his research is on the capacity of foreign subsidiaries to assimilate, utilize and transfer geographically localized knowledge during the process of technological innovation. Papers from this research stream have been presented at various academic conferences and published in leading academic journals. More recently, Frost has embarked on a research project looking at competitive dynamics between multinationals and local firms in emerging markets. A paper from this project, co-authored with Ivey's Niraj Dawar, was recently published in Harvard Business Review. Frost's research has been funded by various organizations including Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Center for European Studies at Harvard University, Industrial Performance Center at MIT, and Carnegie Bosch Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
Since joining Ivey in 1996, Tony Frost has taught Ph.D., MBA and undergraduate courses in Business, Economics and Public Policy and strategic management. He has also taught on several Ivey executive programs, including the recently launched Accelerating Management Talent program. He is currently Program Director of the Erasmus program in partnership with the Rotterdam School of Management. Frost also teaches specialized executive programs for emerging market companies in various locations around the world.
- Global Environment of Business
- General Management
- Business Policy Special Fields I & II
- BCom, UBC
- SM, MIT
- PhD, MIT
Recent Refereed Articles
Frost, T. S.; Zhou, C., 2005, "R&D Co-practice and 'Reverse' Knowledge Integration in Multinational Firms", Journal of International Business Studies, November 36(6): 676 - 687. Abstract: This paper contributes to the developing literature on the management of distributed innovation in multinational firms. We focus on a specific organizational mechanism, R&D co-practice, we believe is an important facilitator of knowledge integration in multinationals with global innovation strategies. In our formulation, R&D co-practice (joint technical activities between units), increases levels of absorptive capacity and social capital among participating units, thus increasing the likelihood they will share knowledge at future time periods. We find strong support for this hypothesis through an empirical analysis of 'reverse' (subsidiary to headquarters) knowledge integration in two sectors, automotive and pharmaceuticals, over a 21 year period.
Frost, T. S.; Birkinshaw, J. M.; Ensign, P. C., 2002, "Centers of Excellence in Multinational Firms", Strategic Management Journal, January 23(11): 997 - 1018. Abstract: This paper seeks to understand the conditions under which 'centers of excellence' emerge in foreign subsidiaries of multinational firms. We define a center of excellence as an organizational unit that embodies a set of capabilities that has been explicitly recognized by the firm as an important source of value creation, with the intention that these capabilities be leveraged by andor disseminated to other parts of the firm. Drawing on overlapping research in international business and strategic management, we argue that the formation of centers of excellence is shaped by conditions in the subsidiary's local environment as well as by various aspects of the subsidiary's relationship with other parts of the multinational firm. Based on a survey of 99 foreign units in Canada, our results highlight the fundamental role played by parent firm investment as well as the role of internal and external organizations in the development of subsidiary capabilities. Performance implications of the center of excellence phenomenon are also explored.
Frost, T. S., 2001, "The Geographic Sources of Foreign Subsidiaries' Innovations", Strategic Management Journal, January 22(2): 101 - 123. Abstract: This study contributes to the literature on the nature and evolution of the multinational enterprise by exploring the geographic origins of the knowledge sources utilized for foreign subsidiaries during the process of technological innovation. Through a synthesis of the multinational literature and the broader literature on external sources of innovation, this study develops and tests a set of hypotheses that explain the conditions under which innovating subsidiaries are likely to draw upon sources of knowledge located in the home base of their firm andor the subsidiary's host country environment. The hypotheses are tested through an analysis of the citations listed on over 10,000 patents issued to US greenfield subsidiaries between 1980 and 1990.
Frost, T. S.; Zhou, C., 2000, "The Geography of Foreign R&D within a Host Country: An Evolutionary Perspective on Location-Technology Selection by Multinationals", International Studies of Management and Organization, January 30(2): 10 - 43. Abstract: Recent research on multinational firms emphasizes the learning and knowledge-creating aspects of foreign direct investment. According to this view, multinationals may be pulled abroad in order to 'harness the new sources of knowledge and ideas embedded in regionally based centers of innovation' (Florida and Kenney 1994). This paper develops and tests a set of hypotheses linking the technological characteristics of regions within a host country to levels of R&D investment in those regions by origin multinationals. We argue that the economic geography of foreign R&D investment can be understood through an evolutionary lens in which the tacit and embodied characteristics of knowledge give rise to its location boundedness - and hence an incentive for firms to be proximate to these resources. We further argue that the existing 'site-selection' literature is misplaced in focusing solely on the geography of new facilities and investments by multinational firms. When viewed through an evolutionary lens, the economic geography of foreign R&D can be understood as a cumulative process of expansion, contraction, and adaptation by firms of existing facilities in host-country locations. Firms, in essence, make an ongoing series of joint location-technology choices that largely determine the observable pattern of FDI in R&D.
Dawar, N.; Frost, T. S., 1999, "Competing With Giants: Survival Strategies for Local Companies in Emerging Markets", Harvard Business Review, January 77(2): 119 - 129. Abstract: The arrival of a multinational corporation often looks like a death sentence to local companies in an emerging market. After all, how can they compete in the face of the vast financial and technological resources, the seasoned management, and the powerful brands of, say, a Compaq or a Johnson & Johnson? But local companies often have more options than they might think, say the authors. Those options vary, depending on the strength of globalization pressures in an industry and the nature of a company's competitive assets. In the worst case, when globalization pressures are strong and a company has no competitive assets that it can transfer to other countries, it needs to retreat to a locally oriented link within the value chain. But if globalization pressures are weak, the company may be able to defend its market share by leveraging the advantages it enjoys in its home market. Many companies in emerging markets have assets that can work well in other countries. Those that operate in industries where the pressures to globalize are weak may be able to extend their success to a limited number of other markets that are similar to their home base. And those operating in global markets may be able to contend head-on with multinational rivals. By better understanding the relationship between their company's assets and the industry they operate in, executives from emerging markets can gain a clearer picture of the options they really have when multinationals come to stay.
- Associate Professor, Ivey Business School, Western (2004-Present)
- Assistant Professor, Ivey Business School, Western (1996-2004)
- Teaching Assistant, Sloan School of Management, MIT (1991-1994)