Attention of top managers has an impact on future direction of an organization according to the attention-based view of the firm. In the context of multinational corporations, headquarters’ attention is likely to influence the actions and behavior of subsidiaries. Thus, in the thesis, I respond to calls for more research on this topic: enhancing the understanding about how a subsidiary’s perception of headquarters’ attention relates to its choice of communication moves when sharing business ideas with headquarters (also known as subsidiary voice). In recent research, subsidiary voice is viewed as a bottom-up tool for subsidiaries to attract headquarters’ attention to issues that they consider important for their local units and the entire organization.
In line with the research purpose, the data were collected at the subsidiary level through a combination of both, survey and interviews. The findings based on empirical data point out that a subsidiary’s perception of headquarters’ attention engagement has a positive impact on its voice. This means that subsidiaries not having regular interaction with headquarters are unable to select communication moves that can attract headquarters’ attention and hence encounter challenges in adopting an initiative-taking approach to gain influence or a central position in the organization. As a result, contrary to the claims put forth in recent research, the thesis findings highlight that subsidiary voice alone is not enough to attract headquarters’ attention. Instead, subsidiaries can only use their voice when they have power (also called weight) to influence headquarters’ attention and decisions.
This gives rise to an unequal playing field because subsidiaries that lack considerable weight are unable to contribute to strategy formulation and future planning done by the headquarters, with regard to their own units and the organization in general. On the contrary, subsidiaries with a considerable weight experience a high degree of attention engagement from the headquarters and thus find it easier to attract headquarters’ attention for their business ideas.