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Trapped in a vicious circle: can low weight subsidiaries get headquarters’ attention?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business Studies.
2017 (English)In: Critical Perspectives on International Business, ISSN 1742-2043, E-ISSN 1758-6062, Vol. 13, no 2, 166-179 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - Subsidiaries use their weight and/or voice to get attention for the initiatives they share with the headquarters. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether subsidiaries with a low weight can effectively use their voice to get the headquarters' attention.

Design/methodology/approach - This paper is a combination of the attention-based view of the firm and the issue-selling literature applied to the context of subsidiaries selling their initiatives to the headquarters of a multinational corporation.

Findings - Subsidiaries with a low weight are trapped in a vicious circle in which they are unable to get more influence and gain a central position in the organization through the initiative-taking approach. This problem may mainly be attributed to their limited access to (or even entire lack of) direct and rich communication with the headquarters, which impedes the ability of these subsidiaries to gain knowledge about headquarters and the organization in general. As a result, low-weight subsidiaries are unable to make the correct decisions about which selling moves to use regarding initiatives that are able to capture headquarters' attention; this inability means that they are less likely to gain approval from headquarters for implementing the proposed initiatives.

Originality/value - Subsidiary voice is not an accessible and effective bottom-up tool available to low-weight subsidiaries for gaining influence, which is contrary to what is claimed by extant mainstream research in international business and strategy. Hence, subsidiaries with low weight are completely marginalized from the sharing of subsidiary initiatives that takes place within multinational corporations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 13, no 2, 166-179 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-306295DOI: 10.1108/cpoib-07-2015-0036ISI: 000402884300005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-306295DiVA: diva2:1040272
Available from: 2016-10-26 Created: 2016-10-26 Last updated: 2017-07-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Unequal Playing Field: Headquarters’ Attention and Subsidiary Voice in Multinational Corporations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Unequal Playing Field: Headquarters’ Attention and Subsidiary Voice in Multinational Corporations
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

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.      

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. 72 p.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Uppsala universitet, ISSN 1103-8454 ; 182
Keyword
attention, communication, issue selling, subsidiary initiatives, multinational corporation, headquarter-subsidiary relationship
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Business Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-306441 (URN)978-91-506-2611-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-12-15, Hörsal 2 (Lecture Hall 2), Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10 C, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-11-25 Created: 2016-10-28 Last updated: 2016-11-25

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ul Haq, Hammad

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