Managing Headquarters-Subsidiary Relationships in Multinational Corporations

Anne Kristin Hoenen

Publikation: AbschlussarbeitDissertation


Past research in international management has applied a variety of theoretical lenses to the study of relations between multinational firms' headquarters (HQs) and their foreign subsidiaries. Despite the vast amount of contributions, scholars have recently highlighted important gaps that call for further work in the area of headquarters-subsidiary (HQ-Sub) relationships in multinational corporations (MNCs). This dissertation contributes to the literature on HQ-Sub relationships in MNCs by addressing two main questions. First, how can HQs constrain subsidiaries' dysfunctional behaviors and ensure the proper use of delegated decision-making authority? Second, how can units at intermediate organizational levels, such as regional HQs, build entrepreneurial capabilities? The first part of this dissertation (Papers I and II) uses an agency theory lens to examine the pertinent issues of coordination and control in these intra-organizational relations. It conceptualizes HQs and subsidiaries as principals and agents, respectively, in order to explore the dynamics of this theoretically distinct principal-agent setting. The second part of this dissertation (Paper III) draws on the entrepreneurship and MNC embeddedness literature. It examines how units at intermediate organizational levels differ from local subsidiaries and global HQs, and explores how these differences affect the entrepreneurial capabilities of intermediate units. Overall, this dissertation aims to contribute to a better understanding of the challenges arising from the delegation of decision-making authority in complex, geographically dispersed organizations. It offers novel insights into the challenges of controlling and constraining certain dysfunctional behaviors, as well as strategies for developing more desirable behaviors in HQ-Sub relationships in MNCs.
Gradverleihende Hochschule
  • Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 1 Mai 2014